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THE 

WISDOM OF 
CHINA AND 
INDIA 





SEVENTH PRINTING 


Copyright, 1942, by Random House, Inc. 
Manufactured in the U.S.A, by H, Wolff, New York 



ACKNOWLEDGMENTS 


We wish to acknowledge our indebtedness to the 

following publishers for their courtesy in granting 

permission to reprint sections of books issued and 

copyrighted by them: 

“The Tale of Ch’ienniang/* from My Country and 
My People by Lin Yutang; Letter VIII and a post- 
script to Letter XIII in “Letters of a Chinese Poet/’ 
and sections from the “Six Chapters of a Floating 
Life,” from The Importance of Living by Lin 
Yutang, copyrighted and published by The John 
Day Company, Inc. 

“The Sermon at Benares,” the “Sermon on Abuse” 
and the legends, “The Marriage Feast in Jam- 
bunada,” “Kisa Gotami,” and “Following the 
Master over the Stream,” copyrighted and pub- 
lished by The Open Court Publishing Company, 
La Salle, Illinois. 

Selections from The Panchatantra, translated by 
Arthur W. Ryder, and copyrighted and published 
by The University of Chicago Press. 

“The Tale of Meng Chiang,” from The Lady of the 
Long Wall, translated by Genevieve Wimsatt and 
Geoffrey Chen, and published by Columbia Uni- 
versity Press. 

Selections from The fade Mountain, translated by 
Witter Bynner, copyrighted, 1920, 1929, by Alfred 
A. Knopf, Inc. 

“Aphorisms of Confucius” and “The Golden Mean,” 
from The Wisdom of Confucius, translated and 
edited by Lin Yutang, copyrighted, 1938, by 
Random House, Inc. 

Selections from The Surangama and “What is 
Nirvana?” from The Lan\avatara, translated by 
Dwight Goddard and Wei-Tao, published by 
Dwight Goddard. 

Other acknowledgments have been made in the in- 
dividual introductions. 




Contents 


PART ONE: THE WISDOM OF INDIA 


INTRODUCTION 

3 

INDIAN PIETY 


Hymns from the Rigveda 


Introduction 

II 

To Indra 

14 

The Song of Creation 

15 

To Prajapati 

16 

To Varuna 

17 

To Varuna 

19 

To Visvakarman 

20 

To Indra 

21 

Hymn of Man 

23 

To Liberality 

25 

To Faith 

26 

To Night 

27 

To Dawn 

27 

The Upanishads 


Introduction 

31 

The Story of the Creation 

34 

The Subde Essence 

38 

The True Brahman 

40 

Emancipation 

41 

The Conquest of Death 

42 

The One God 

46 

The Immanence of God 

48 

God Is Within You 

50 

Know God 




via 


CONTENTS 


The Lord’s Song (The Bhagavad-Gita) 

Introduction 54 

The Blessed Lord’s Song 57 

The Yoga Aphorisms of Patanjali 
Introduction 1 1 5 

Concentration* Its Spiritual Uses 120 

Concentration: Its Practice 123 

Powers 1 27 

Independence 130 

INDIAN IMAGINATION 
The Ramayana 

Introduction 135 

Book I Sita-Swayamvara 14 1 

Book II Vana-Gamana-Adesa 15 1 

Book III Dasa-Ratha-Viyoga 166 

Book IV Rama-Bharata-Sambada 183 

Book V Panchavati " 193 

Book VI Sita-Harana 201 

Book VII Kishkmdha 212 

Book VIII Sita-Sandesa 221 

,Book IX Ravana-Sabha 227 

Book X Yuddha 234 

Book XI Rajya-Abhisheka 250 

Book XII Aswa-Medha 257 

INDIAN HUMOR 
The Fables of Panchatantra 

Introduction 265 

Introduction to the Stories 270 

The Frogs That Rode Snakeback 272 

The Unforgiving Monkey 273 

The Lion-Makers 276 

Mouse-Maid Made Mouse 277 

The Duel Between Elephant and Sparrow 280 

The Heron That Liked Crabmeat 281 

The Unteachable Monkey 283 

The Brahman’s Goat 284 

The Snake in the Prince’s Belly 285 

The Gullible Husband 287 

The Butter-Blinded Brahman 289 

The Brahman, the Thief and the Ghost 290 



CONTENTS 


IX 


The Loyal Mungoose 291 

The Mice That Set Elephants Free 292 

The Ass in the Tiger-Skin 293 

The Farmer’s Wife 294 

The Brahman’s Dream 295 

Shell-Neck, Slim, and Grim 296 

The Enchanted Parrot 

Introduction 297 

Yasodevi and Her Transmigrations 300 

The Queen and the Laughing Fish 301 

The Son of Promise 309 

Devika and Her Foolish Husband 313 

The Lady and the Tiger 314 

The Concluding Story 315 

BUDDHISM 
The Dhammapada 

Introduction 321 

The Dhammapada 327 

Three Sermons by Buddha 

Introduction 357 

The Sermon at Benares 359 

The Sermon on Abuse 362 

The Fire Sermon 363 

Some Buddhist Parables and Legends 
Introduction 365 

Kisa Gotami 367 

The Marriage-Feast in Jambunada 369 

Following the Master over the Stream 370 

The Greedy Monk 371 

A Courtesan Tempts the Monk Occan-of-Beauty 373 

The Light of Asia 

Introduction 377 

The Light of Asia 380 

The Surangama Sutra 

Introduction 491 

The Surangama Sutra 496 

What Is Nirvana? 

Introduction 550 

What Is Nirvana? 552 


GLOSSARY OF HINDU WORDS 


557 



X 


CONTENTS 


PART TWO: THE WISDOM OF CHINA 

INTRODUCTION 567 

CHINESE MYSTICISM 

Laotse, the Book of Tao 
Introduction 
The Principles of Tao 
The Application of Tao 
Chuangtse, Mystic and Humorist 
Introduction 
A Happy Excursion 
On Levelling All Things 
The Preservation of Life 
This Human World 

Deformities, or Evidences of a Full Character 
The Great Supreme 
Joined Toes 
Horses’ Hoofs 

Opening Trunks, or a Protest Against Civilization 
On Tolerance 
Autumn Floods 

CHINESE DEMOCRACY 

The Book of History, Documents of Chinese Democracy 


Introduction 695 

The Canon of Yao 707 

The Counsels of the Great Yu 714 

The Counsels of Kao-Yao 718 

The Songs of the Five Sons 720 

The Announcement of T’ang 722 

T’ai Chia 724 

The Common Possession of Pure Virtue 726 

The Charge to Yueh 727 

The Great Declaration 731 

The Metal-Bound Coffer 735 

The Announcement of the Duke of Shao 737 

The Speech of Ch’in 741 

Mencius, the Democratic Philosopher 
Introduction 743 

Mencius, the Democratic Philosopher 747 


570 

604 

625 

629 

633 

643 

645 

651 

657 

666 

669 

671 

675 

682 



CONTENTS 


XI 


Motse, the Religious Teacher 

Introduction 785 

On the Necessity of Standards 788 

On the Importance of a Common Standard 790 

Universal Love (II) 794 

Universal Love (III) 795 

Condemnation of Offensive War (I) 797 

Condemnation of Offensive War (II) 798 

Condemnation of Offensive War (III) 800 

The Will of Heaven (I) 801 

The Will of Heaven (II) 803 

The Will of Heaven (III) 804 

Anti-Confuciamsm (II) 806 

Keng Chu 806 

THE MIDDLE WAY 

The Aphorisms of Confucius 

Introduction 81 1 

Description of Confucius by Himself and Others 814 

The Emotional and Artistic Life of Confucius 818 

The Conversational Style 821 

The Johnsonian Touch 823 

Wit and Wisdom 826 

Humanism and True Manhood 829 

The Superior Man and the Inferior Man 833 

The Mean as the Ideal Character and Types of Persons 
that Confucius Hated 835 

Government 838 

On Education, Ritual and Poetry 840 

The Golden Mean of Tsesze 

Introduction 843 

The Central Harmony 845 

The Golden Mean 846 

Moral Law Everywhere 847 

The Humanistic Standard 848 

Certain Models 850 

Ethics and Politics 852 

Being One’s True Self 856 

Those Who Are Absolute True Selves 857 

Eulogy on Confucius 859 

Epilogue 862 



Xll 


CONTENTS 


CHINESE POETRY 

Introduction 

86; 

Some Great Ancient Lyrics 

871 

Ch’u Yuan 

8q2 

Li Po 

S98 

The Tale of Meng Chiang 

909 

The Mortal Thoughts of a Nun 

932 

SKETCHES OF CHINESE LIFE 

Introduction 

937 

Chinese Tales 

The Judgment Betw^een Two Mothers 

939 

The Judgment on a Dispute 

940 

The Chinese Cinderella 

940 

The Tale of Chhenniang 

943 

The Man Who Sold Ghosts 

945 

It’s Wonderful to Be Drunk 

946 

It’s Good to Be Headless 

947 

The Brothers’ Search for Their Father 

947 

The Private History of Queen Feiyen 

955 

Six Chapters of a Floating Life 

Introduction 

964 

Wedded Bliss 

968 

The Little Pleasures of Life 

990 

Sorrow 

1003 

The Joys of Travel 

1023 


Experience {missing) 

The Way of Life {missing) 


CHINESE WIT AND WISDOM 

Introduction 1053 

Parables of Ancient Philosophers 

The Man Who Spurned the Machine 1054 

Do-Nothing Say-Nothing 1055 

The Concealed Deer 1056 

The Man Who Forgot 1057 

Chi Liang’s Physicians 1058 

Honest Shangch’iu Kai 1059 

The Man Who Worried About Heaven io6i 

The Old Man Who Would Move Mountains 1062 

Confucius and the Children io6a 



CONTENTS Xlll 

The Man Who Saw Only Gold 1064 

Looks Like a Thief 1064 

Measurements for Shoes 1064 

King Huan Lost His Hat 1065 

How the Tongue Survived the T'^eth 1065 

The Owl and the Quail 1066 

The Tiger and the Fox 1066 

The Crane and the Clam 1067 

The Blind Man’s Idea of the Sun 1067 

Family Letters of a Chinese Poet 
Introduction 1068 

Family Letters of a Chinese Poet 1070 

The Epigrams of Lusin 

Introduction 1083 

The Epigrams of Lusin 1087 

One Hundred Proverbs 

Introduction 1091 

One Hundred Proverbs 1093 

THE PRONUNCIATION OF CHINESE NAMES 1102 

TABLE OF CHINESE DYNASTIES H04 






THE 

WISDOM 

OF 

INDIA 



Introduction 


I AM NOT a Sanskrit or Pali scholar, but, better than that, a lover of books 
that are eternal in their wisdom. The purpose of including the wisdom 
of India with the wisdom of China is to communicate a joyful experience 
of the beauty and wisdom of that country’s literature and share it with 
my readers. In the process of compilation, I could not have enjoyed it 
more if I had taken a trip to India. How could it be otherwise? The 
contact with poets, forest saints and the best wits of the land, the glimpse 
into the first awakening of Ancient India’s mind as it searched, at times 
childishly and naively, at times with a deep intuition, but at all times 
earnestly and passionately, for the spiritual truths and the meaning of 
existence — this experience must be highly stimulating to anyone, par- 
ticularly because the Hindu cultuie is so different and therefore has so 
much to offer. One sees the ideas and the ethos of a nation as revealed 
in Its literature, which have activated and moulded that people for three 
thousand years. Not until we see the richness of the Hindu mind and 
its essential spirituality can we understand India or hope to share with 
It the freedom and equality of peoples which we in some lame and 
halting fashion are trying to create out of this morally and politically 
chaotic world. 

In accordance with Chinese courtesy, I have put the section on the 
wisdom of India first, reversing the order suggested by the title. If I 
have put China first in the title, it is because I strongly suspect that the 
average reader does not suspect India has as rich a culture, as creative an 
imagination and wit and humor as any China has to offer, and that 
India was China’s teacher in religion and imaginative literature, and 
the world’s teacher in trigonometry, quadratic equations, grammar, 

3 



THE WISDOM OF INDIA 


4 

phonetics, Arabian Nights, animal fables, chess, as well as in philosophy, 
and that she inspired Boccaccio, Goethe, Herder, Schopenhauer, Emer- 
son, and probably also old Aesop. 

But the great age of Western appreciation of Indian literature and 
philosophy, the age of Sir William Jones, Franz Bopp and Sir Edwin 
Arnold, has passed. The enthusiasm that came with the discovery of 
Sanskrit and the founding of the science of Indo-Germanic philology, 
directly inspired by it, soon evaporated, i860 marked the turning point. 
G. T. Garratt writes in his extremely informative article “Indo-Bntish 
Civilization” in The Legacy of India (Oxford) ; “This phase was not 
fated to last. His [Sir William Jones’s] successors soon began to adopt 
that slightly hostile and superior attitude which characterizes the work 
of Englishmen writing on Indian subjects. . . . From about 1836, this 
tradition had become firmly established. India was the ‘Land of Regrets’ 
in which Englishmen spent years of exile amongst a people half savage, 
half decadent.” “After the Mutiny • . . new types of Englishmen went 
out East, including journalists and schoolmasters; they brought their 
wives, and were visited by tourists; within India a domiciled English 
and Eurasian population was growing in numbers and developing a 
life of its own. . . . The British were rapidly developing into a separate 
caste, strongly reinforced by the new officials, planters, and business 
men who came crowding out East after i860. There was a natural tend- 
ency for writers to concentrate more upon this colony of their expatri- 
ated countrymen,” producing a mass of cheap novels, “nearly all of 
which are grossly offensive to (the Hindu) race.” “They are interesting 
for the light they throw upon the bureaucracy during the most static, 
self-satisfied, and sterile era of British rule, from about 1870, till the end 
of the century. The greater part of Rudyard Kipling’s Indian works is 
direcdy in this tradition, though it is illumined by his own genius. . . , 
Apart from the ‘Jtmgle’ books, the greater part of his Indian fiction aqd 
verse is concerned with these two [European and Eurasian] tiny com- 
munities, the officials and military officers, and the subordinate Euro- 
peans and Eurasians. Round them surges the immense sea of Indians, 
but nearly all of this subjected race who appear as individuals are minor 
characters, mostly domestic servants or women kept by Englishmen. 
The few educated Indians who come into his pages seem to have been 
introduced to satisfy the deep-seated prejudices of the English in India. 
. . . Kipling allowed himself the most astounding generalizations about 
Indian duplicity and mendacity, or the physical cowardice of certain 



INTRODUCTION 


5 

races.” When Sir Edwin Arnold wrote about i860 in his Preface to his 
translation of the Httopadesa, “No one listens now to the precipitate 
ignorance which would set aside as ‘heathenish’ the high civilization 
of this great race/’ he did not know what he was talking about. India 
today has become an untouchable topic, and the most untouchable topic 
is about the untouchable caste of the Englishmen in India — I must for- 
bear to touch the topic now. 

The average Western attitude toward India may be summed up in a 
sentence which contains a fourfold untruth: “All I know about India 
is that the Hindus are Buddhists, and as the Nirvana of Buddha’s 
teachings means extinction, obviously India has nothing to contribute 
to the world civilization.” The first untruth is that the Hindus are 
Buddhists, which they as a nation are not. Characteristically, the Hindus 
have rejected Buddhism as the Jews have rejected Christianity. The 
second untruth is the assumption that the meaning of Nirvana is ever 
understood by the conditioned, finite, logical intelligence of man. The 
third untruth rises from the fact that India has actually produced a vast, 
rich imaginative literature and philosophy, besides Buddhism, and that 
the Indian culture is highly creative and in fact has enriched the world 
literature with the droll humor that we associate with the Arabian 
Nights. And the fourth untruth is the denial that the essential spiritual 
concept of man in both Hinduism and Buddhism, their essential denial 
of materialism, and their stand on non-violence arising from those re- 
ligions, have anything to teach to the modern world. Buddha taught 
that the greatest sin is ignorance or thoughtlessness, and that the holy 
life begins with, and is founded upon, moral earnestness and the spirit 
of inquiry and self-examination. This sin of thoughtlessness about India 
has to cease. Nobody is going to profit by making the problem of India 
or British rule in India an untouchable topic. It is my firm belief that 
this generation of elderly statesmen is hopeless, and that we must begin 
by educating a new generation toward a more correct view of the Indian 
nation. 

The basic material concerning the beliefs of Hinduism, the national 
religion of present-day Hindus and their leaders like Gandhi and 
Nehru, is to be found in the first section on Hindu piety. It is charac- 
teristic of Indian thought that, in India, religion and philosophy are 
inseparable. In India, no “link” between philosophy and religion is 
necessary and the problem of finding that fatal missing link in the 
modern world does not exist. Hindu philosophy and the knowledge of 



6 


THE WISDOM OF INDIA 


God are inseparable as Chinese philosophy and the questions of human 
conduct are inseparable. We do not know whether we are coming to 
the close of an epoch; we do not know whether our highly specialized 
and departmentalized thinkers are capable of reuniting science, phi- 
losophy and religion. But it is evident that India is a land overflowing 
with religion and with the religious spirit. India produced too much 
religion, and China, too little. A trickle of Indian religious spirit over- 
flowed to China and inundated the whole of Eastern Asia. Not too little, 
but too much is India’s trouble. It would seem logical and appropriate 
that any one suffering from a deficiency of the religious spirit should 
turn to India rather than to any other country in the world. It is appar- 
ent that only in India is religion still a living emotion today, and that 
the Christian doctrine of turning the other cheek could be turned into 
a national movement, practiced by the masses, only in India and in no 
other country in the world. India’s paradox is the pacifist’s paradox the 
world over. But peace can come only from non-violence and disbelief 
in force, and non-violence can come only from India, because the 
Indians seem really to believe in it. 

In the realm of imaginative literature, the great Indian epics will 
speak for themselves. The comparison with the lhad and the Odyssey 
is inevitable. I have preferred to give the whole story of the Ramayana, 
rather than give incomplete selections from both; those interested may 
read the Mahabharata in the Everyman’s Library edition. I have, for 
reasons of space, also found it necessary to exclude the great dramatic 
poetry of Shakuntala, by Kalidasa, “the Indian Shakespeare” (Every- 
man’s) and the popular classical drama, Little Clay Cart (tr. by Arthur 
William Ryder, Harvard Oriental Series). 

It may also be a complete revelation to find that the fabulous Hindu 
mind is responsible for the genre of animal fables and many stories of 
the Arabian Nights type, in which Buddhist and non-Buddhist litera- 
ture abounds. “Numerous European fairy stories, to be found in Grimm 
or Hans Andersen, including the magic mirror, the seven-leagued 
boots, Jack and the beanstalk, and the purse of Fortunatus, have been 
traced to Indian sources,” writes H. G. Rawlinson, in his article “India 
in European Literature and Thought” in The Legacy of India. “Many 
of them are to be found in the Gesta Romanorutn, the Decameron, and 
Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales!' The story of the Three Caskets, used in 
the Merchant of Venice, is found in the romance of Barlaam and Josa- 
phat, which is too clearly the story of Buddha, who was changed into 



INTRODUCTION 


7 

a Christian garb, and later canonized as a Christian saint as St. Josaphat! 
And everyone of course knows the story of the Milkmaid who dreamt 
of her wedding and overthrew the milk pail, now to be recognized in 
its original form as the story of the Brahman’s Dream, included in the 
selections from the Panchatantra. 

Lastly, I have included important selections from Buddhist canons 
and non-canonical works, chiefly from the Mahayana, or the “Greater 
Vehicle School,” or the school of “Northern Buddhism.” I confess to a 
personal bias, and have largely used Mahayana texts based on Chinese 
translations from the Sanskrit. The study of Pali, which rose to impor- 
tance about 1880, has shifted the emphasis to the Hinayana texts of the 
school of “Southern Buddhism.” And I believe that, apart from scholarly 
convenience in the study of Pali, any satisfactory interpretation of 
Buddhism as a religion for the common man must come from the 
Mahayana texts. This I have tried to make plain in my introduction to 
the selection from the Surangama Sutra, In spite of the wealth of the 
Pali Tripita\a, I rather think the final gleanings as a living belief for 
the student of larger human truths must be somewhat barren. 

I think it is possible to take the three selections, the Hymns from the 
Rigveda, the Bhagavad-Gita and the Dhammapada, the latter two being 
reproduced here complete, as milestones in the development of Hindu 
thought and find therein the best fruit of the Hindu speculation about 
the meaning of man’s existence on earth. 

India’s achievements in the field of the positive sciences have natu- 
rally not been included. It is interesting to note that when Houston 
Chamberlain, the English apostle of Aryanism, wanted to prove 
^ Aryan superiority, he had to point out Panini as the world’s first gram- 
marian. Readers who are interested should read the relevant chapters in 
The Legacy of India or the less obtainable 'Tosittve Sciences of the 
Ancient Hindus” by Sarkar. 

In a book for the general reader such as this, it is advisable to use a 
simple system of transcription of Indian words. I have, therefore, 
eliminated all accent marks except those for long vowels in the selec- 
tions. For variations in spellings of the same word, see the short note pre- 
ceding the “Glossary of Hindu Words.” 

Finally I have to thank Dr. Taraknath Das of the College of the City 
of New York who has been helpful in guiding me to certain interesting 
references, as well as explaining certain obscure Indian terms, and in 
going over the proofs of the Indian section of this book, 




INDIAN 

PIETY 






Hymns from the Eigveda 


INTRODUCTION 

India is a land and a people intoxicated with God. This is the impres- 
sion^of anyone who reads through the Hymns from the Rigt/eda, and 
follows through the Upanishads to the arrival of Buddha in 563 B.C. 
The Hindu preoccupation with questions of the world soul and the 
individual soul is so intense that at times it must seem oppressive to a 
less spiritual people. I doubt there is a nation on earth that equals the 
Hmdus in religious emotional intensity except the Jews. It is therefore 
entirely natural that we find the earliest creation of the Hindu spirit 
assumed a form and passion very similar to the Psalms of the Old 
Testament. 

Max Muller has called the Rigveda (rig means ‘Verse” and i/eda means 
“knowledge,” the title meaning “songs of spiritual knowledge”) “the 
first word spoken by the Aryan man.” The Vedas cover. ten -books and 
1,028 hymns. In point of antiquity, the earliest of the Vedas probably 
went as far back as 1,^500 or 1,200 B.C., covering eight centuries of de- 
velopment, during which they grew to their present form. Throughout 
this development and down to present-day Hinduism, we see this pre- 
occupation with God and the mystic conception of the universe. Hindus 
are natural mystics, mysticism meaning a form of religion aiming at 
achieving direct union with God. To achieve the union of the individual 
soul (atman) with the world soul (brahma) behind all things may be 
said to be the whole effort of the Vedic philosophy. 

Injfhese Hymns one sees, at the very birth of this religious spirit, such 
utterances expressing an awakening of man’s souL and -sense of wonder 
and doubt and intellectual inquiry, in such characteristic fashion like 
somethinff that hits one in the eye. It may sound frivolous, yet pro- 

XI 


12 


INDIAN PIETY 


foundly true, to say that Hindu intoxication with God began with the 
drink of the soma-juice, a fermented drink from the soma-plant, used in 
Vedic rituals. For, says the early Hindu poet: 

Not as a mote within the eye count the five tribes of men with me: 

Have I not drunk of soma-juice? 

The heavens and earth themselves have not grown equal to half of me: 
Have I not drunk of soma-juice? 

I in my grandeur have surpassed the heavens and all this spacious earth: 
Have I not drunk of soma-juice? 

Aha* this spacious earth will I deposit either here or there: 

Have I not drunk of soma-juice? 

One of my flanks is in the sky: I let the other trail below: 

Have I not drunk of soma-juice? 

The case for intoxication with God is therefore established. And readers 
may well regard these Hymns as the first cocktail sips of the Hindu 
religious philosophy. 

The suggestion of similarity with the Psalms is inevitable, when one 
reads lines like the following, in the able version by Ralph T. H. 
Griflith: 

Far from me, Varuna, remove all danger: accept me graciously, thou holy 
sovran. 

Cast ofl, like cords that hold a calf, my troubles: I am not even mine eyelid’s 
lord without thee, 

O mighty Varuna, now and hereafter, even as of old, will we speak forth thy 
worship. 

For in thyself, invincible god, thy statutes ne’er to be moved as fixed as on 
a mountain, (To Varuna) 

Or listen to the first fervent cry of joy at the glories of the sunrise at 
dawn: 

Bright leader of glad sounds, our eyes behold her: splendid in hue she hath 
unclosed the portals. 

She, stirring up the world, hath shown us riches; Dawn hath awakened every 
living creature. 



HVMNS FROM THE RICVRDA I3 

Dawns giving sons all heroes, kine and horses, shining upon the man who 
brings oblations — 

These let the soma-presser gain when ending his glad songs louder than the 
voices of Vayu. (To Dawn) 

Equally reminiscent of the Psalms are the Hymns to Indra, the ‘"fierce 
god”: 

He who hath smitten, ere they knew their danger, with his hurled weapon 
many grievous sinners; 

Who pardons not his boldness who provokes him, who slays the Dasyu, he, 
O men, is Indra. 

Even the heaven and earth bow down before him, before his very breath the 
mountains tremble. 

Known as the soma-drinker, armed with thunder, who wields the bolt, he, 

0 men, is Indra. (To Indra) 

And the sense of intellectual inquiry and doubt naturally followed the 
sense of wonder and worship : 

What was the tree, what wood in sooth produced it, from which they fash- 
ioned out the earth and heaven.? 

Ye thoughtful men inquire within your spirit whereon he stood when he 
established all things. (To Visvakarman) 

Skepticism arose at the end of the “Song of Creation”: 

He, the first origin of this creation, whether he formed it all or did not 
form it, 

Whose eye controls this world in highest heaven, he verily knows it, or per- 
haps he knows not. 

And so on, until in the Hymn to Prajapati (the Creator), which Max 
Muller has entided “To the Unknown god,” the Vedic poet in ten 
successive verses asks the question, “What god shall we adore with 
our oblation?” 

1 notice among certain European students of Hinduism the constant 
insinuation of polytheism with a tone of reproach. That Hindu mono- 
theism developed in the Upanishads with the Vedanta belief in the One 
behind all things is a minor point. It is my belief that it is entirely 
unimportant what god one worships, monotheistic or polytheistic; what 
is important is that belief should produce the true spirit of devotion in 
the life of the worshipper. In modern terms, what is important is that 
religion be “efficient,” that is, that it produce results, and I may say that 
modern monotheism is less efficient than when men believed in the 
spirituality of trees and rocks, and mountains and rivers. 



Hymns from the Rigveda 

Translated by Ralph /. H. Griffith 


TO INDRA^ 

This, even this was my resolve, to win a cow, to win a steed: 

Have I not drunk of soma-juice? 

Like violent gusts of wind the draughts that I have drunk have lifted me ; 
Have I not drunk of soma-juice? 

The draughts I drank have borne me up, as fleet-foot horses draw a car: 
Have I not drunk of soma-juice? 

The hymn hath reached me, like a cow who lows to meet her darling 
calf: 

Have I not drunk of soma-juice? 

As a Wright bends a chariot-seat, so round my heart I bend the hymn: 
Have I not drunk of soma-juice? 

Not as a mote within the eye count the five tribes of men with me: 
Have I not drunk of soma-juice? 

The heavens and earth themselves have not grown equal to one half 
of me: 

Have I not drunk of soma-juice? 

^ The favonte national deity of the Vedic age. He hurls thunderbolts. 

14 



HYMNS FROM THE RIGVEDA I5 

I m my grandeur have surpassed the heavens and all this spacious earth: 
Have I not drunk of soma-juice? 

Aha! this spacious earth will I deposit either here or there: 

Have I not drunk of soma-juice? 

In one short moment will I smite the earth in fury here or there: 

Have I not drunk of soma-juice? 

One of my flanks is in the sky; I let the other trail below: 

Have I not drunk of soma-juice? 

I, greatest of the mighty ones, am lifted to the firmament: 

Have I not drunk o^ soma-juice? 

I seek the worshipper’s abode; oblation-bearer to the gods: 

Have I not drunk of soma-juice? (Boo\ X, iig) 


THE SONG OF CREATION 

Then was not non-existent nor existent: there was no realm of air, no 
sky beyond it. 

What covered in, and where? and what gave shelter? Was water there, 
unfathomed depth of water? 

Death was not then, nor was there aught immortal: no sign was there, 
the day’s and night’s divider. 

That one thing, breathless, breathed by its own nature: apart from it was 
nothing whatsoever. 

Darkness there was: at first concealed in darkness, this All was indis- 
criminated chaos. 

All that existed then was void and formless: by the great power of 
warmth was born that unit. 

Thereafter rose desire in the beginning, Desire, the primal seed and germ 
of spirit. 

Sages who searched with their heart’s thought discovered the existent’s 
kinship in the non-existent. 



i6 


INDIAN PIETY 


Transversely was their severing line extended: what was above it then, 
and what below it? 

There were begetters, there were mighty forces, free action here and 
energy up yonder. 

Who verily knows and who can here declare it, whence it was born and 
whence comes this creation? 

The gods are later than this world’s production. Who knows, then, 
whence it first came into being? 

He, the first origin of this creation, whether he formed it all or did not 
form it, 

Whose eye controls this world in highest heaven, he verily knows it, 
or perhaps he knows not. (Boo^ X, i2g) 


TO PRAJAPATr 

In the beginning rose Hiranyagarbha,® born only lord of all created 
beings. 

He fixed and holdeth up this earth and heaven. What god shall we adore 
with our oblation? 

Giver of vital breath, of povyer and vigour, he whose commandments all 
the gods acknowledge: 

The lord of death, whose shade is life immortal. What god shall we adore 
with our oblation? 

Who by his grandeur hath become sole ruler of all the moving world 
that breathes and slumbers: 

He who is lord of men and lord of cattle. What god shall we adore with 
our oblation? 

His, through his might, are these snow-covered mountains, and men call 
sea and Rasa ® his possession : 

His arms are these, his are these heavenly regions. What god shall we 
adore with our oblation? 

^ The Creator, ruler of the universe. 

^ Hiranyagarbha: the sun-god. 

the mythical river of the firmament. 



HYMNS FROM THE RIGVEDA I7 

By him the heavens are strong and earth is stedfast, by him light’s realm 
and sky-vault are supported : 

By him the regions in mid-air were measured. What god shall we adore 
with our oblation ^ 

To him, supported by his help, two armies embattled look with trem- 
bling in their spirit, 

When over them the risen sun is shining. What god shall we adore with 
our oblation ? 

What time the mighty waters came, containing the universal germ^ 
producing Agni,"^ 

Thence sprang the god’s one spirit into being. What god shall we adore 
with our oblation? 

He in his might surveyed the floods containing productive force and 
generating worship. 

He is the god of gods, and none beside him. What god shall we adore 
with our oblation? 

Ne’er may he harm us who is earth’s begetter, nor he whose laws are 
sure, the heavens’ creator. 

He who brought forth the great and lucid waters. What god shall we 
adore with our oblation? 

Prajapati! thou only comprehendest all these created things, and none 
beside thee. 

Grant us our hearts’ desire when we invoke thee: may we have store of 
riches in possession. X, 121) 


TO VARUNA* 

This laud of the self-radiant wise Aditya® shall be supreme o’er all that 
is in greatness. 

I beg renown of Varuna the mighty, the god exceeding kind to him who 
worships. 

^ The god of fire and light. 

® King of air and sea. 

® Son of Adin. Both Varuna and the Sun are Adityas. 



l8 INDIAN PIETY 

Having extolled thee, Varuna, with thoughtful care may we have high 
fortune m thy service. 

Singing thy praises like the fires at coming, day after day, of mornings 
rich in cattle. 

May we be in thy keeping, O thou leader, wide ruling Varuna, Lord of 
many heroes. 

O sons of Aditi, for ever faithful, pardon us, gods, admit us to your 
friendship. 

He made them flow, the Aditya, the susta'iner: the rivers run by Varuna’s 
commandment. 

These feel no weariness, nor cease from flowing: swift have they flown 
like birds in air around us. 

Loose me from sin as from a band that binds me: may we swell, Varuna, 
thy spring of order. 

Let not my thread, while I weave song, be severed, nor my work’s sum, 
before the time, be shattered. 

Far from me, Varuna, remove all danger: accept me graciously, thou 
holy sovran. 

Cast off, like cords that hold a calf, my troubles: I am not even mine 
eyelid’s lord without thee. 

Strike us not, Varuna, with those dread weapons which, Asura, at thy 
bidding wound the sinner. 

Let us not pass away from light to exile. Scatter, that we may live, the 
men who hate us. 

O mighty Varuna, now and hereafter, even as of old, will we speak forth 
our worship. 

For in thyself, invincible god, thy statutes ne’er to be moved are fixed as 
on a mountain. 

Move far from me what sins I have committed: let me not suffer, King, 
for guilt of others. 

Full many a morn remains to dawn upon us: in these, O Varuna, while 
we live direct us. 



HYMNS FROM THE RIGVEDA I9 

9 King, whoever, be he friend or kinsman, hath threatened me af- 
frighted in my slumber — 

If any wolf or robber fain would harm us, therefrom, O Varuna, give 
thou us protection. 

May I not live, O Varuna, to witness my wealthy, liberal, dear friend’s 
destitution. 

King, may I never lack well-ordered riches. Loud may we speak with 
heroes in assembly. {Boo\ U, 28) 


TO VARUNA 

Sing forth a hymn sublime and solemn, grateful to glorious Varuna, 
imperial ruler, 

Who hath struck out, like one who slays the victim, earth as a skin to 
spread in front of Surya.^ 

In the tree-tops the air he hath extended, put milk in kine and vigorous 
speed in horses. 

Set intellect in hearts, fire in the waters, Surya in heaven and Soma on 
the mountain. 

Varuna lets the big cask, opening downward, flow through the heaven 
and earth and air’s mid-region. 

Therewith the universe’s sovran waters earth as the shower of rain 
bedews the barley. 

When Varuna is fain for milk, he moistens the sky, the land, and earth 
to her foundation. 

Then straight the mountains clothe them in the raincloud: the heroes, 
putting forth their vigour, loose them. 

I will declare this mighty deed of magic, of glorious Varuna, the lord 
immortal, 

Who, standing in the firmament, hath meted the earth out with the sun 
as with a measure. 


*Thc Sun God. 



20 


INDIAN PIETY 


None, verily, hath ever let or hindered this the most wise god’s mighty 
deed o£ magic, 

Whereby with all their flood, the lucid rivers fill not one sea wherein they 
pour their waters. 

If we have sinned against the man who loves us, have ever wronged a 
brother, friend, or comrade. 

The neighbour ever with us, or a stranger, O Varuna, remove from us 
the trespass. 

If we, as gamesters cheat at play, have cheated, done wrong unwit- 
tingly or sinned of purpose. 

Cast all these sins away like loosened fetters, and, Varuna, let us be thine 
own beloved. {Boo\ V, S5) 

TO VISVAKARMAN^ 

He who sate down as Hotar-priest,® the Rishi,® our father, offering up all 
things existing— 

He, seeking through his wish a great possession, came among men on 
earth as archetypal. 

What was the place whereon he took his station? What was it that sup- 
ported him? How was it? 

Whence Visvakarman, seeing all, producing the earth, with mighty 
power disclosed the heavens. 

He who hath eyes on all sides round about him, a mouth on all sides, 
arms and feet on all sides, 

He, the sole god, producing earth and heaven, weldeth them, with his 
arms as wings, together. 

What was the tree, what wood in sooth produced it, from which they 
fashioned out the earth and heaven? 

Ye thoughtful tnm inquire within your spirit whereon he stood when 
he established all things. 

^Visvakarman is represented in this hymn as the creator of all things and architect of 

the worlds. . 

* The priest who invokes the gods to receive the offerings. 

• A saint, anchorite, a term commonly used. 



HYMNS FROM THE RIGVEDA 


21 


Thine highest, lowest, sacrificial natures and these thy midmost here, 
O Visvakarman, 

Teach thou thy friends at sacrifice, O Blessed, and come thyself, exalted, 
to our worship. 

Bring thou thyself, exalted with oblation, O Visvakarman, earth and 
heaven to worship. 

Let other men around us live in folly: here let us have a rich and liberal 
patron. 

Let us invoke to-day, to aid our labour, the lord of speech, the thought- 
swift Visvakarman. 

May he hear kindly all our invocations who gives all bliss for aid, whose 
works are righteous. (Boo\ X, 8i) 


TO INDRA 

He who, just born, chief god of lofty spirit by power and might became 
the gods’ protector, 

Before whose breath through greatness of his valour the two worlds 
trembled, he, O men, is Indra. 

He who fixed fast and firm the earth that staggered, and set at rest the 
agitated mountains. 

Who measured out the air’s wide middle region and gave the heaven 
support, he, men, is Indra. 

Who slew the dragon, freed the seven rivers, and drove the kine forth 
from the cave of Vala, 

Begat the fire between two stones, the spoiler in warrior’s battle, he, 
O men, is Indra. 

By whom this universe was made to tremble, who chased away the 
humbled brood of demons. 

Who, like a gambler gathering his winnings, seized the foe’^riches, he^ 
O men^ is Indra» 



22 


INDIAN PIETY 


Of whom, the terrible, they ask. Where is he ? or verily they say of him, 
He IS not. 

He sweeps away, like birds, the foe’s possessions. Have faith in him, 
for he, O men, is Indra. 

Stirrer to action of the poor and lowly, of priest, of suppliant who sings 
his praises; 

Who, fair-faced, favours him who presses soma with stones made ready, 
he, O men, is Indra. 

He under whose supreme control are horses, all chariots, and the villages, 
and cattle; 

He who gave being to the sun and morning, who leads the waters, he, 
O men, is Indra. 

To whom two armies cry in close encounter, both enemies the stronger 
and the weaker; 

Whom two invoke upon one chariot mounted, each for himself, he, 
O ye men, is Indra. 

Without whose help our people never conquer; whom, battling, they 
invoke to give them succour; 

He of whom all this world is but the copy, who shakes things moveless, 
he, O men, is Indra. 

He who hath smitten, ere they knew their danger, with his hurled 
weapon many grievous sinners; 

Who pardons not his boldness who provokes him, who slays the Dasyu, 
he, O men, is Indra, 

He who discovered in the fortieth autumn Sambara as he dwelt among 
the mountains; 

Who slew the dragon putting forth his vigour, the demon lying there, 
he, men, is Indra. 

Who with seven guiding reins, the bull, the mighty, set free the seven 
great floods to flow at pleasure; 

Who, thunder-armed, rent Rauhina^ in pieces when scaling heaven, he, 
O ye men, is Indra. 

^ A demon of drought. 



HYMNS IfROM THE RIGVEDA 

Even the heaven and earth bow down before him, before his very breath 
the mountains tremble. 

Known as the soma-drmker, armed with thunder, who wields the bolt, 
he, O ye men, is Indra. 

Who aids with favour him who pours the soma and him who brews it, 
sacrificer, singer, 

Whom prayer exalts, and pouring forth of soma, and this our gift, he, 
O ye men, is Indra. 

Thou verily art fierce and true who sendest strength to the man who 
brews and pours libation. 

So may we evermore, thy friends, O Indra, speak loudly to the synod 
with our heroes. (Boo\ II, 12) 


HYMN OF MAN 

A THOUSAND heads hath Purusha,^ a thousand eyes, a thousand feet. 
On every side pervading earth he fills a space ten fingers wide. 

This Purusha is all that yet hath been and all that is to be. 

The lord of immortality which waxes greater still by food. 

So mighty is his greatness; yea, greater than this is Purusha. 

All creatures are one-fourth of him, three-fourths eternal life in heaven. 


With three-fourths Purusha went up: one-fourth of him again was here. 
Thence he strode out to every side over what eats not and what cats. 

From him Viraj ® was born; again Purusha from Viraj was born. 

As soon as he was born he spread eastward and westward o’er the earth. 

^ ‘Purusha, embodied spirit, or man personified and regarded as the soul and original source 
®f the universe, the personal and life-giving pnnciple in all animated beings, is said to have 
a thousand, that is innumerable, heads, eyes, and feet, as being one with all created life. 
A space ten fingers wide, the region of the heart of man, wherein the soul was supposed 
to reside. Although as the universal soul he pervades the universe, as the individual soul 
he is enclosed m a space of narrow dimensions. 

" One of the sources of existence. 



INDIAN PIETY 


24 

When gods prepared the sacrifice with Purusha as their offering, 

Its oil was spring; the holy gift was autumn; summer was the wood. 

They balmed as victim on the grass Purusha born in earliest time. 

With him the deities and all Sadhyas ^ and Rishis sacrificed. 

From that great general sacrifice the dripping fat was gathered up. 

He formed the creatures of the air, and animals both wild and tame. 

From that great general sacrifice Richas and Sama-hymns were born: 
Therefrom were spells and charms produced; the Yajus had its birth 
from It. 

From it were horses born, from it all cattle with two rows of teeth : 
From it were generated kine, from it the goats and sheep were born. 

When they divided Purusha, how many portions did they make.? 
What do they call his mouth, his arms.? What do they call his thighs 
and feet? 

The Brahman^ was his mouth, of both his arms was the Raj any a ® made. 
His thighs became the Vaisya,* from his feet the Sudra ® was produced. 

The moon was gendered from his mind, and from his eye the sun had 
birth; 

Indra and Agni from his mouth were born, and Vayu ® from his breath. 

Forth from his navel came mid-air; the sky was fashioned from his head; 
Earth from his feet, and from his ear the regions. Thus they formed the 
worlds. 

Seven fencing-sticks had he, thrice seven layers of fuel were prepared, 
When the gods, offering sacrifice, bound, as their victim, Purusha. 

^ Celestial beings. 

* The first caste o£ Brahman priests. 

* The second caste of kings. 

* The third caste of traders. 

® The fourth caste of laborers. 

«Godo£ Wmd. 



HYMNS FROM THE RIGVEDA 


25 

Gods, sacrificing, sacrificed the victim: these were the earliest holy 
ordinances. 

The mighty ones attained the height of heaven, there where the Sadhyas, 
gods of old, are dwelling. {Book^ X, 90) 


TO LIBERALITY 

The gods have not ordained hunger to be our death: even to the well- 
fed man comes death in varied shape. 

The riches of the liberal never waste away, while he who will not give 
finds none to comfort him. 

The man with food in store who, when the needy comes in miserable 
case begging for bread to eat. 

Hardens his heart against him — even when of old he did him service- 
finds not one to comfort him. 

Bounteous is he who gives unto the beggar who comes to him in want 
of food and feeble. 

Success attends him in the shout of battle. He makes a friend of him in 
future troubles. 

No friend is he who to his friend and comrade who comes imploring 
food, will offer nothing. 

Let him depart — no home is that to rest in — and rather seek a stranger 
to support him. 

Let the rich satisfy the poor implorer, and bend his eye upon a longer 
pathway. 

Riches come now to one, now to another, and like the wheels of cars 
are ever rolling. 

The foolish man wins food with fruitless labour: that food — ^I speak the 
truth — shall be his ruin. 

He feeds no trusty friend, no man to love him. All guilt is he who eats 
with no partaker. 



26 


INDIAN PIETY 


The ploughshares ploughing makes the food that feeds us, and with its 
feet cuts through the path it follows. 

Better the speaking than the silent Brahman: the liberal friend out- 
values him who gives not. 

He with one foot hath far outrun the biped, and the two-footed catches 
the three-footed. 

Four-footed creatures come when bipeds call them, and stand and look 
where five are met together. 

The hands are both alike: their labour differs. The yield of sister milch- 
kine is unequal. 

Twins even differ in their strength and vigour : two, even kinsmen, differ 
in their bounty. {Boo\ X, iiy) 


TO FAITH 

By faith is Agni kindled, through faith is oblation offered up. 

We celebrate with praises faith upon the height of happiness. 

Bless thou the man who gives, O Faith; Faith, bless the man who fain 
would give. 

Bless thou the liberal worshippers; bless thou the word that I have said. 

Even as the deities maintained faith in the mighty Asuras,^ 

So make this uttered wish of mine true for the liberal worshippers. 

Guarded by Vayu, gods and men who sacrifice draw near to faith. 

Man winneth faith by yearnings of the heart, and opulence by faith. 

Faith in the early morning, Faith at noonday will we invocate. 

Faith at the setting of the sun. O Faith, endow us with belief. 

(Boo{ X, 75/) 

^ Primeval Aryan gods, later bcUftvcd as demons working against God, 



HYMNS FROM THE RIGVEDA 


27 


TO NIGHT 

With all her eyes the goddess Night looks forth approaching many a 
spot: 

She hath put all her glories on. 

Immortal, she hath filled the waste, the goddess hath filled height ar^^ 
depth; 

She conquers darkness with her light. 

The goddess as she comes hath set the Dawn her sister in her place: 
And then the darkness vanishes. 

So favour us this night, O thou whose pathways we have visited 
As birds their nest upon the tree. 

The villagers have sought their homes, and all that walks and all that 
flies, 

Even the falcons fain for prey. 

Keep oif the she-wolf and the wolf; O Urmya,^ keep the thief away: 
Easy be thou for us to pass. 

Clearly hath she come nigh to me who decks the dark with richest hues : 
O morning, cancel it like debts. 

These have I brought to thee like kine. O Night, thou child of heaven, 
accept 

This laud as for a conqueror. {Boo\ X. I2y) 


TO DAWN 

This light is come, amid all lights the fairest; born is the brilliant, far- 
extending brightness. 

Night, sent away for Savitar’s * uprising, hath yielded up a birthplace 
for the morning. 

^ Epithet for “night" personified. 

® Savitar the sun, the life-giver. 



28 


INDIAN PIETY 


The fair, the bright is come with her white offspring; to her the dark 
one hath resigned her dwelling. 

Akin, immortal, following each other, changing their colours, both the 
heavens move onward. 

Common, unending is the sisters’ pathway: taught by the gods, alter- 
nately they travel. 

Fair-formed, of different hues and yet one-minded, Night and Dawn 
clash not, neither do they tarry. 

Bright leader of glad sounds, our eyes behold her : splendid in hue she 
hath unclosed the portals. 

She, stirring up the world, hath shown us riches : Dawn hath awakened 
every living creature. 

Rich Dawn, she sets afoot the coiled-up sleeper, one for enjoyment, one 
for wealth or worship. 

Those who saw little for extended vision: all living creatures hath the 
Dawn awakened. 

One to high sway, one to exalted glory, one to pursue his gain and one 
his labour; 

All to regard their different vocations, all moving creatures hath the 
Dawn awakened. 

We see her there, the child of heaven, apparent, the young maid, flushing 
in her shining raiment. 

Thou sovran lady of all earthly treasure, flush on us here, auspicious 
Dawn, this morning. 

She, first of endless morns to come hereafter, follows the path of morns 
that have departed. 

Dawn, at her rising, urges forth the living: him who is dead she wakes 
not from his slumber. 

As thou, Dawn, hast caused Agni to be kindled, and with the sun’s eye 
hast revealed creation, 

And hast awakened men to offer worship, thou hast performed, for 
gods, a noble service. 



HYMNS FROM THE RIGVEDA 


29 

How long a time, and they shall be together.— Dawns that have shone 
and dawns to shine hereafter ? 

She yearns for former dawns with eager longing, and goes forth gladly 
shining with the others. 

Gone are the men who in the days before us looked on the rising of the 
earlier morning. 

We, we the living, now behold her brightness, and they come nigh who 
shall hereafter see her. 

Foe-chaser, born of Law, the law’s protectress, joy-giver, waker of all 
pleasant voices, 

Auspicious, bringing food for gods’ enjoyment, shine on us here, most 
bright, O Dawn, this morning. 

From days eternal hath Dawn shone, the goddess, and shows this light 
to-day, endowed with riches. 

So will she shine on days to come; immortal she moves on in her own 
strength, undecaying. 

In the sky’s borders hath she shone in splendour: the goddess hath 
thrown off the veil of darkness. 

Awakening the world with purple horses, on her well-harnessed chariot 
Dawn approaches. 

Bringing all life-sustaining blessings with her, showing herself, she 
sends forth brilliant lustre. 

Last of the countless mornings that have vanished, first of bright morns 
to come hath Dawn arisen. 

Arise! the breath, the life, again hath reached us: darkness hath passed 
away, and light approacheth. 

She for the sun hath left a path to travel: we have arrived where men 
prolong existence. 

Singing the praises of refulgent mornings with his hymn’s web, the 
priest, the poet, rises. 

Shine then to-day, rich maid, on him who lauds thee, shine down on US 
the gift of life and offspring. 



INDIAN PIETY 


30 

Dawns giving sons all heroes, kine and horses, shining upon the man 
who brings oblations — 

These let the soma-presser gam when ending his glad songs louder than 
the voice of Vayu. 

Mother of gods, Aditi’s form of glory, ensign of sacrifice, shine forth 
exalted. 

Rise up, bestowing praise on our devotion: all-bounteous, make us chief 
among the people. 

Whatever splendid wealth the dawns bring with them to bless the man 
who offers praise and worship, 

Even that may Mitra, Varuna vouchsafe us, and Aditi^ and Sindhu," 
earth and heaven. {Boo\ h 113) 

'The Infinite. 

®Thc Indus, or any great river. 



The Upanishads 


INTRODUCTION 

Schopenhauer is credited to have read a^atin translation of a Persian 
translation of the Upanishads, which influenced his philosophic specula- 
tions about the world as will and as idea, and I trust many English 
readers hear of the Upanishads in connection with Schopenhauer, if not 
with Emerson. The age of “Brahmin” transcendentalism has passed, 
yet W. B. Yeats, George Russell and a number of contemporary poets 
seem to entertain a curiosity about what is contained in the mystic- 
metaphysical view of man and God and the universe in the Upanishads^ 
When one comes to read the Upanishads themselves, many may have 
been repelled by what Yeats calls the “polyglot, hyphenated, latinised, 
muddied muddle of distortion that froze belief” in some of the scholarly 
translations. Furthermore, the Upanishads, being the earliest specula- 
tions about .the universe and encasing some very naive dogmatizations 
as well as later and more mature developments, are often not easy to 
follow or enjoy, made worse by commentaries by scholars, who help 
to split the hair, not yet split fine enough by the forest sages of ancient 
India. A discriminating selection is therefore necessary. Personally I 
have been kept away from many of the world’s masterpieces because in 
my young days I happened to stumble upon some bad edition or trans- 
lation of a certain work. 

The Upanishads are believed to have been mostly written before the 
time of Buddha, although some (the last five in the present selection) 
might be as late as 400 B.C. They represented the development ot 

^ Sec Yeats’ Preface to The Ten Prinapal Upanishads which he helped to translate in 
collaboration with a Hindu scholar Shree Purohit Swami (Macmillan, 1937). 


31 


INDIAN PIETY 


32 

probably three or four centuries, and this fact explains why the differ- 
ent Upamshads are of uneven value to the modern reader. Compare, 
for instance, the first selection with the last in the present volume, and 
one can readily see the difference in language and thought. It may be 
surprising that the Upanishads as a whole are regarded by the Hindus 
today as holy scriptures, which are still sung daily as a form of devo- 
tion by the learned Brahmans. Yet an analogy with the Old Testament 
should make the matter clear. The fact that the books of the Old Testa- 
ment present different views of Jahveh, now a tribal god, now a supreme 
ruler, now jealous and fierce with vengeance, and now benevolent, does 
not make any difference to the average believer in Christianity. The 
modern Christian who believes God is the Father of all mankind still 
finds it possible to enjoy the story of Joshua who prayed to God to stay 
the sun in order to allow him time to annihilate the enemy. 

The Upamshads are strictly speaking the speculations of the Indian 
forest sages about the world system, and therefore quite different from 
the Hymns of the Rigveda. “It is this brooding on the meaning of 
existence which distinguishes the spirit of the Hymns from the Upani- 
shads,'" says Tagore. The entire collection breathes the spirit of a 
troubled inquiry into the problems of the reality, the individual soul andj 
the world soul behind the phenomena. What is the Ultimate Self, the* 
Atman What is the spirit of the universe, the Brahman.? What is 
mind and what is matter, and what is that personality behind our con- 
sciousness, the Purusha? Finally, what is God.? Is he transcendent or 
immanent.? The Sankhya philosophers believed that the world consists 
of two principles, souls and the material world, the Pra\riti, or Nature, 
while the Vedanta philosophers believed in one all-comprising unity. 
Out of such debates in the forest grew these books. These questions are 
vexing in their very nature, whether to the ancient or to the better- 
equipped modern man. Two important conclusions are: first, that the 
ultimate reality, or Brahman, is incomprehensible and surpasses all un- 
derstanding. “And he (the Atman) can only be described as no, no!” 
The second result, the most important discovery, is that the individual 
soul, or Self, within is identical with the soul without, and that by 
discovering this real Self, man achieves freedom and emancipation from 
Ma*-a, or the illusions. Still, as Tagore rightly points out, the whole 
approach is too intellectual, and the foal consummation of Vedic philos- 
ophy is to be found in Bhagavad-Gita, written perhaps two centuries 
later, when an ardent devotion to a personal God took the place of these 



THE UPANISHADS 


33 

barren speculations. According to Buddhist records, there were as many 
as sixty-three confusing schools of philosophy at the time of Buddha 
(563-483 B.C.), which explained Buddha’s revolt at their futile reason- 
ings and ritualism. Buddha came as a giant, and attacked the same prob- 
lem from a human approach, and preached the fourfold truth: that 
there is human suffering, that there is a cause for this suffering, that 
there is an escape, and that his teachings of emancipation from illusions 
and senses and desires constitute that escape. Against that Brahmanic 
background. Buddhism had an austere clarity of method and goal, but 
as will be seen from the Upamshads, it was from this soil that Buddha’s 
teachings naturally grew. 

It is the “troubled intensity” of man’s search after the soul and its 
moral earnestness that seems to constitute the value and significance of 
the Upanishads, Nor can it be said that the final message of the 
Upanishads can be ignored even today: 

“Only when men shall roll up the sky like a hide, will there be an end to 
misery, imless God has first been known.” 

— The Svetasvatara Upanishad 



The Upanishads 

T ranslated by F. Max Muller 


THE STORY OF THE CREATION" 

In the beginning this was Self alone, in the shape of a person {Purusha), 
He looking round saw nothing but his Self. He first said, ‘This is F; 
therefore he became I by name. Therefore even now, if a man is asked, 
he first says, ‘This is I,’ and then pronounces the other name which he 
may have. And because before all this, he burnt down all evils, there- 
fore he was a person. Verily he who knows this, burns down everyone 
who tries to be before him. 

He feared, and therefore anyone who is lonely fears. He thought, ‘As 
there is nothing but myself, why should I fear,?’ Thence his fear passed 
away. For what should he have feared.? Verily fear arises from a second 
only. 

But he felt no delight. Therefore a_m.an.who is lonely feels no delight. 
He wished for a second. He was so large as man and wife together. 
He then made this his Self to fall in two and thence arose husband and 
wife. Therefore Yajnavalkya said: ‘We two are^thus (each of us).Eke 
half a shell.’ Therefore the void which was there, is filled by the wife. 
He embraced her, and men were born. 

She thought, ‘How can he embrace me, after having produced me 
frorn himself ? I shall hide myselE’ “ 

She then became a cow, the other became a bull and embraced her, 
and hence cows were born. The one became a mare, the other a stallion; 


^This curious and rather crude story of the creation contains nevertheless many germinal 
ideas of Hinduism, 


THE UPANISHADS 


35 

the one a male ass, the other a female ass. He embraced her, and hence 
one-hoofed animals were born. The one became a she-goat, the other a 
he-goat; the one became a ewe, the other a ram. He embraced her, and 
hence goats and sheep were born. And thus he created everything that 
exists in pairs, down to the ants. 

He knew, ‘I indeed am this creation, for I created all this,’ Hence he 
became the creation, and he who knows this lives in this his creation. 

Next he thus produced fire by rubbing. From the mouth, as from 
the fire-hole, and from the hands he created fire. Therefore both the 
mouth and the hands are inside without hair, for the fire-hole is inside 
without hair. 

And when they say, 'Sacrifice to this or sacrifice to that god,’ each 
god is but his manifestation, for he is all gods. 

Now, whatever there is moist, that he created from seed; this is Soma. 
So far verily is this universe either food or eater. Soma indeed is food, 
Agni eater. This is the highest creation of Brahman, when he created 
the gods from his better part, and when he, who was (then) mortal, 
created the immortals. Therefore it was the highest creation. And he 
who knows this, lives in this his highest creation. 

Now all this was then undeveloped. It became developed by form and 
name, so that one could say, 'He, called so and so, is such a one.’ There- 
fore at present also all this is developed by name and form, so that one 
can say, 'He, called so and so, is such a one.’ 

He (Brahman or the Self) entered thither, to the very tips of the 
finger-nails, as a razor might be fitted in a razor-case, or as fire in a 
fire-place. 

He cannot be seen, for, in part only, when breathing, he is breath by 
name; when speaking, speech by name; when seeing, eye by name; 
when hearing, ear by name; when thinking, mind by name. All these 
are but the names of his acts. And he who worships (regards) _him as 
the one or the other, does not know him, for he is apart from this (when 
qualified) by the one or the other (predicate). Let men worship him as 
Seif, for in the sell all these are old.^ Tins Self is the footstep of every- 
thing, for through it one knows everything. And as one can find again 
by footsteps what was lost, thus he who knows this finds glory and praise. 

This, which is nearer to us than anything, ^is^ Self, is dearer than a 
son, dearer than wealth, dearer than all else. 

^The Brahman “Self’* is almost what we mean by the divine nature immanent in ourselves 
as well as m the external world- 



INDIAN PIETY 


36 

And i£ one were to say to one who declares another than the Self 
dear, that he will lose what is dear to him, very likely it would be so. 
Let him worship the Self alone as dear. He who worships the Self alone 
as dear, the object of his love will never perish. 

Here they say: ‘If men think that by knowledge of Brahman they 
will become everything, what then did that Brahman know^ from 
whence all this sprang.?’ 

Verily in the beginning this was Brahman, that Brahman knew (its) 
Self only, saying, ‘I am Brahman.’ From it all this sprang. Thus, what- 
ever Deva was awakened (so as to know Brahman), he indeed became 
that (Brahman); and the same with Rishis and men. The Rishi 
Vamadeva saw and understood it, singing, 1 was Manu (moon), I was 
the sun.’ Therefore now also he who thus knows that he is Brahman, 
becomes all this, and even the Devas cannot prevent it, for he himself is 
their Self. 

Now if a man worships another deity, thinking the deity is one and 
he another, he does not know. He is like a beast for the Devas. For 
verily, as many beasts nourish a man, thus does every man nourish the 
Devas. If only one beast is taken away, it is not pleasant; how much 
more when many are taken 1 Therefore it is not pleasant to the Devas 
that men should know this. 

Verily in the beginning this was Brahman, one only. That being one, 
was not strong enough. It created still further the most excellent 
Kshatra (power), viz. those Kshatras (powers) among the Devas — 
Indra, Varuna, Soma, Rudra, Parjanya, Yama, Mrityu, Isana. Therefore 
there is nothing beyond the Kshatra, and therefore at the Rajasuya sac- 
rifice the Brahmana sits down below the Kshatriya. He confers that 
glory on the Kshatra alone. But Brahman is (nevertheless) the birth- 
place of the Kshatra. Therefore though a king is exalted, he sits down 
at the end (of the sacrifice) below the Brahman, as his birthplace. He 
who injures him, injures his own birthplace. He becomes worse, because 
he has injured one better than himself. 

He was not strong enough. He created the people, the classes of Devas 
which in their different orders are called Vasus, Rudras, Adityas, Visve 
Devas, Maruts. 

He was not strong enough. He created the Sudra caste, as nourisher. 
This earth verily is Pushan (the nourisher) ; for the earth nourishes all 
this whatsoever. 

was not strong enough. He created still further the most excellent 



THE UPANISHADS 


37 

Law. Law is the Kshatra (power) of the Kshatra, therefore there is 
nothing higher than the Law. Thenceforth even a weak man rules a 
stronger with the help of the Law, as with the help of a king. Thus the 
Law IS what is called the true. And if a man declares what is true, they 
say he declares the Law; and if he declares the Law, they say he declares 
what is true. Thus both are the same. 

There are then this Brahman, Kshatra, Vis, and Sudra. Among the 
Devas that Brahman existed as fire only, among men as Brahmana, as 
Kshatriya through the (divine) Kshatriya, as Vaisya through the 
(divine) Vaisya, as Sudra through the (divine) Sudra. Therefore people 
wish for their future state among the Devas through the sacrificial fire 
only; and among men through the Brahmana, for in these two forms 
did Brahman exist. 

Now if a man departs this life without having seen his true future 
life (in the Self), then that Self, not being known, does not receive and 
bless him, as if the Veda had not been read, or as if a good work had 
not been done. Nay, even if one who does not know that (Self), should 
perform here on earth some great holy work, it will perish for him in the 
end. Let a man worship the Self only as his true state. If a man wor- 
ships the Self only as his true state, his work does not perish, for what- 
ever he desires that he gets from that Self. 

Now verily this Self (of the ignorant man) is the world of all crea- 
tures. In so far as man sacrifices and pours out libations, he is the world 
of the Devas; in so far as he repeats the hymns, etc., he is the world 
of the Rishis; in so far as he offers cakes to the fathers and tries to obtain 
offspring, he is the world of the fathers; in so far as he gives shelter and 
food to men, he is the world of men; in so far as he finds fodder and 
water for the animals, he is the world of the animals; in so far as quadru- 
peds, birds, and even ants live m his houses, he is their world. And as 
everyone wishes his own world not to be injured, thus all beings wish 
that he who knows this should not be injured. Verily this is known and 
has been well reasoned. 

In the beginning -this was Self alone, one only. He desired, ‘Let there 
be a wife for me that I may have offspring, and let there be wealth for 
me that I may offer sacrifices.’ Verily this is the whole desire, and, even 
if wishing for more, he would not find it. Therefore now also a lonely 
person desires, ‘Let there be a wife for me that I may have offspring, 
and let there be wealth for me that I may offer sacrifices.’ And so long 
as he does not obtain either of these things, he thinks he is incomplete. 



INDIAN PIETY 


38 

Now his completeness (is made up as follows) : mind is his Self (hus- 
band); speech die wife; breath the child; the eye all worldly wealth, 
for he finds it with the eye; the ear his divine wealth, for he hears it 
with the ear. The body (atman) is his work, for with the body he works. 
This is the fivefold sacrifice, for fivefold is the animal, fivefold man, 
fivefold all this whatsoever. He who knows this, obtains all this. 

(From the Brihaddranyal^a Upanishad) 


THE SUBTLE ESSENCE" 

‘As the bees, my son, make honey by collecting the juices of distant 
trees, and reduce the juice into one form. 

‘And as these juices have no discrimination, so that they might say, 
I am the juice of this tree or that, in the same manner, my son, all these 
creatures, when they have become merged in the True (either in deep" 
sleep or in death), know not that they are merged in the True. 

‘Whatever these creatures are here, whether a lion, or a wolf, or a 
boar, or a worm, or a midge, or a gnat, or a mosquito, that they become 
again and again. 

‘Now that which is that subtle essence, in it all that exists has its self, 
ft is the True. It is the Self, and thou, O Svetaketu, art it.’ 

‘Please, Sir, inform me still more,’ said the son. 

‘Be it so, my child,’ the father replied. 

‘These rivers, my son, run, the eastern (like the Ganga) toward the 
east, the western (like the Sindhu) toward the west. They go from sea 
to sea. They become indeed sea. And as those rivers, when they are in 
the sea, do not know, I am this or that river. 

‘In the same manner, my son, all these creatures, when they have 
come back from the True, know not that they have come backirom the 
True. Whatever these creatures, are here, whether a lion, or a wolf, or a 
boar, or a worm, or a midge, or a gnat, or a mosquito, that they become 
again and again. 

‘That which is that subtle essence, in it all that exists has its self. It is 
the True. It is the Self, and thou, O Svetaketu, art it.’ 

‘Please, Sir, inform me still more,’ said the son. 

‘Be it so, my child,’ the father replied. 

^ This is the teaching of Uddalaka Arum to his son Svetaketu. 



THE UPANISHADS 


39 

If someone were to strike at the root of this large tree here, it would 
bleed, but live. If he were to strike at its stem, it would bleed, but live. 
If he were to strike at its top, it would bleed, but live. Pervaded by the 
living Self that tree stands firm, drinking in its nourishment and re- 
joicing; 

‘But if the living Self leaves one of its branches, that branch withers; 
if it leaves a second, that branch withers; if it leaves a third, that branch 
withers. If it leaves the whole tree, the whole tree withers. In exactly 
the same manner, my son, know this.’ Thus he spoke : 

‘This body indeed withers and dies when the living Self has left it; 
the living Self dies not. 

‘That which is that subtle essence, in it all that exists has its self. It is 
the Self, and thou, Svetaketu, art it.’ 

‘Please, Sir, inform me still more,’ said the son. 

‘Be It so, my child,’ the father replied. 

‘Fetch me from thence a fruit of the nyagrodha tree.* 

‘Here is one. Sir.’ 

‘Break it.’ 

‘It is broken, Sir.’ 

‘What do you see there?’ 

‘These seeds, almost infinitesimal,’ 

‘Break one of them.’ 

‘It is broken, Sir.’ 

‘What do you see there?’ 

‘Not anything, Sir.’ 

The father said: ‘My son, that subtle essence which you do not per- 
ceive thero, of that very essence this great nyagrodha tree exists. 

‘Believe it, my son. That which is the subtle essence, in it all that 
^exists, has its self.. It is the True. It is the Self, and thou, O Svetaketu, 
art it.’ 

‘Please, Sir, inform me still more,’ said the son. 

‘Be it so, my child,’ the father replied. 

‘Place this salt in water, and then wait on me in the morning.’ 

The son did as he was commanded. 

The father said to him: ‘Bring me the salt, which you placed in the 
water last night.’ 

The son having looked for it, found it not, for, of course, it was melted. 



40 INDIAN PIETY 

The father said: ‘Taste it from the surface of the water. How is it?’ 

The son replied: It is salt.’ 

‘Taste it from the middle. How is it?’ 

The son replied : It is salt.’ 

‘Taste it from the bottom. How is it?’ 

The son replied: ‘It is salt.’ 

The father said: ‘Throw it away and then wait on me.’ 

He did so; but salt exists for ever. 

Then the father said: ‘Here also, in this body, forsooth, you do not 
perceive the True, my son; but there indeed it is. 

‘That which is subtle essence, in it all that exists has its self. It is 
the True. It is the Self, and thou, Svetaketu, art it.’ 

‘Please, Sir, inform me still more,’ said the son. 

‘Be It so, my child,’ the father replied. 

{From the Chhandogya Upanishad) 

THE TRUE BRAHMAN 

All this is Brahman. Let a man meditate on that visible world as 
beginning, ending, and breathing in it. 

Now man is a creature of will. According to what his will is in this 
world, so will he be when he has departed this life. Let him therefore 
have this will and belief: 

The intelligent, whose body is spirit, whose form is light, whose 
thoughts are true, whose nature is like ether, from whom all works, all 
desires, all sweet odours and tastes proceed; he who embraces all this, 
who never speaks, and is never surprised. 

He is my self within the heart, smaller than a corn of rice, smaller 
than a corn of barley, smaller than a mustard seed, smaller than a 
canary seed or the kernel of a canary seed. He also is my self within the 
heart^greateiLthan the earth, greater than the sky, greater than heaven, 
greater than all these worlds. 

He from whom all works, all desires, all sweet odours and tastes pro- 
ceed, who embraces all this, who never speaks and who is never sur- 
prised, he, my self within the heart, is that Brahman. When I shall have 
departed from hence, I shall obtain that Self. He who has this faith 
has no doubt; thus said Sandilya,"^ yea, thus he said, 

{From the Chhandogya Upanishad) 

^ This diajitcr is frequently quoted as the Sandilya-vidya. 



THE UPANISHADS 


41 


EMANCIPATION 

Hari, Om. There is this city of Brahman (the body), and in it the 
palace, the small lotus of the heart, and m it that small ether. Now 
what exists within that small ether, that is to be sought for, that is to be 
understood. ' 

And if they should say to him: ‘Now with regard to that city of 
Brahman, and the palace in it, i.e. the small lotus of the heart, and the 
small ether within the heart, what is there within it that deserves to 
be sought for, or that is to be understood?’ 

Then he should say: ‘As large as this ether is, so large is that ether 
within the heart. Both heaven and earth are contained within it, both 
fire and air, both sun and moon, both lightning and stars; and whatever 
there is of him here in the world, and whatever is not, all that is con- 
tained within it.’ 

And if they should say to him: ‘If everything that exists is contained 
in that city of Brahman, all beings and all desires, then what is left of 
it, when old age reaches it and scatters it, or when it falls to pieces?’ 

Then he should say: ‘By the old age of the body, the ether does 
not age; by the death of the body, the ether is not killed. That is the 
true Brahma-city. In it all desires are contained. It is the Self, free from 
sin, free from old age, from death and grief, from hunger and thirst, 
which desires nothing but what it ought to desire, and imagines nothing 
but what it ought to imagine. Now as here on earth people follow as 
they are commanded, and depend on the object which they are attached 
to, be it a country or a piece of land, 

‘And as here on earth, whatever has been acquired by exertion per- 
ishes, so perishes whatever is acquired for the next world by sacrifices 
and other good actions performed on earth. Those who depart from 
hence without having discovered the Self and those true desires, for 
them there is no freedom in all the worlds. But those who depart from 
hence, after having discovered the Self and those true desires, for them 
there is freedom in all the worlds. 

(From the Chhdndogya Upanishad) 



42 


INDIAN PIETY 


THE CONQUEST OF DEATH 
I 

Vajasravasa, desirous of heavenly rewards, surrendered at a sacrifice 
all that he possessed. He had a son of the name of Nachiketas. 

When the promised presents were being given (to the priests), faith 
entered into the heart of Nachiketas, who was still a boy, and he thought: 

‘Unblessed, surely, are the worlds to which a man goes by giving cows 
which have drunk water, eaten hay, given their milk, and are barren.’ 

He (knowing that his father had promised to give up all that he 
possessed, and therefore his son also) said to his father: ‘Dear father, to 
whom wilt thou give me.?’ 

He said it a second and a third time. Then the father replied: 

‘I shall give thee unto Death.’ 

(The father, having once said so, though in haste, had to be true to 
his word and to sacrifice his son.) 

The son said: ‘I go as the first, at the head of many (who have still 
to die) ; I go in the midst of many (who are now dying) . What will be 
the work of Yama ^ which to-day he has to do unto me.? 

‘Look back how it was with those who came before, look forward 
how it will be with those who come hereafter. A mortal ripens like 
corn, like corn he springs up again.’ 

(Nachiketas enters into the abode of Yama Vaivasvata, and there is 
no one to receive him. Thereupon one of the attendants of Yama is 
supposed to say:) 

‘Fire enters into the houses, when a Brahmana enters as a guest. That 
fire is quenched by this peace-offering— bring water, O Vaivasvata! 

‘A Brahmana that dwells in the house of a foolish man without re- 
ceiving food to cat, destroys his hopes and expectations, his possessions, 
his righteousness, his sacred and his good deeds, and all his sons and 
cattle.’ 

(Yama, returning to his house after an absence of three nights, during 
which time Nachiketas had received no hospitality from him, says:) 

‘O Brahmana, as thou, a venerable guest, hast dwelt in my house three 
nights without eating, therefore choose noiY^tbree. boons. Hail to thee! 
and welfare to me!’ 

^ The King of Death. 



THE UPANISHADS 


43 


II 

Nachiketas said: ‘O Death, as the first of the three boons I choose 
that Gautama, my father, be pacified, kind, and free from anger towards 
me; and that he may know me and greet me, when I shall have been 
dismissed by thee,” 

Yama said: ‘Through my favour Auddalaki Aruni, thy father, will 
know thee, and be again towards thee as he was before. He shall sleep 
peacefully through the night, and free from anger, after having seen 
thee freed from the mouth of death.’ 

Nachiketas said: ‘In the heaven-world there is no fear; thou art not 
there, O Death, and no one is afraid on account of old age. Leaving 
behind both hunger and thirst, and out of the reach of sorrow, all 
rejoice in the world of heaven. 

‘Thou knowest, O Death, the fire-sacrifice which leads us to heaven; 
tell it to me, for I am full of faith. Those who live in the heaven-world 
reach immortality — this I ask as my second boon.’ 

Yama said: ‘I tell it thee, learn it from me, and when thou under- 
standest that fire-sacrifice which leads to heaven, know, O Nachiketas, 
that it is the attainment of the endless worlds, and their firm support, 
hidden in darkness.’ 

Yama then told him that fire-sacrifice, the beginning of all the worlds, 
and what bricks are required for the altar, and how many, and how they 
are to be placed. And Nachiketas repeated all as it had been told to him. 
Then Mrityu, being pleased with him, said again : 

The generous, being satisfied, said to him: ‘I give thee now another 
boon; that fire-sacrifice shall be named after thee, take also this many- 
coloured chain. 

‘He who has three times performed this Nachiketa rite, and has been 
united with the three (father, mother, and teacher), and has performed 
the three duties (study, sacrifice, almsgivmg) overcomes birth and 
death. When he has learnt and understood this fire, which knows (or 
makes us know) all that is born of Brahman, which is venerable and 
divine, then he obtains everlasting peace. 

‘He who knows the three Nachiketa fires, and knowing the three, piles 
up the Nachiketa sacrifice, he, having first thrown off the chains of 
death, rejoices in the world of heaven, beyond the reach of grief. 

‘This, O Nachiketas, is thy fire which leads to heaven, and which 



INDIAN PIETY 


44 

thou hast chosen as thy second boon. That fire all men will proclaim. 
Choose now, O Nachiketas, thy third boon.’ 

Nachiketas said: ‘There is that doubt, when a man is dead — some 
saying, he is; others, he is not. This I should like to know, taught by 
thee; this is the third of my boons.’ 

Death said: ‘On this point even the gods have doubted formerly; it 
is not easy to understand. That subject is subtle. Choose another boon, 

0 Nachiketas, do not press me, and let me off that boon.’ 

Nachiketas said: ‘On this point even the gods have doubted indeed, 

and thou. Death, hast declared it to be not easy to understand, and 
another teacher like thee is not to be found — surely no other boon is 
like unto this.’ 

Death said: ‘Choose sons and grandsons who shall live a hundred 
years, herds of cattle, elephants, gold, and horses. Choose the wide 
abode of the earth, and live thyself as many harvests as thou desirest. 

‘If you can think of any boon equal to that, choose wealth, and long 
life. Be king, Nachiketas, on the wide earth. I make thee the enjoyer 
of all desires. 

‘Whatever desires are difficult to attain among mortals, ask for them 
according to thy wish; these fair maidens with their chariots and 
musical instruments — such are indeed not to be obtained by men — be 
waited on by them whom I give to thee, but do not ask me about dying.’ 

Nachiketas said: ‘These things last till to-morrow, O Death, for they 
wear out this vigour of all the senses. Even the whole of life is short. 
Keep thou thy horses, keep dance and song for thyself. 

‘No man can be made happy by wealth. Shall we possess wealth, when 
we see thee? Shall we live, as long as thou rulest? Only that boon which 

1 have chosen is to be chosen by me. 

‘What mortal, slowly decaying here below, and knowing, after having 
approached them, the freedom from decay enjoyed by the immortals, 
would delight in a long life, after he has pondered on the pleasures 
which arise from beauty and love? 

‘No, that on which there is this doubt, O Death, tell us what there is 
in that great hereafter. Nachiketas does not choose another boon but 
that which enters into the hidden world.’ 



THE UPANISHADS 


45 


III 

Death said: ‘The good is one thing, the pleasant another; these two, 
having different objects, chain a man. It is well with him who clings to 
the good; he who chooses the pleasant, misses his end. 

‘The good and pleasant approach man: the wise goes round about 
them and distinguishes them. Yea, the wise prefers the good to the 
pleasant, but the fool chooses the pleasant through greed and avarice. 

‘Thou, O Nachiketas, after pondering all pleasures that are or seem 
delightful, hast dismissed them all. Thou hast not gone into the road 
that leadeth to wealth, in which many men perish. 

‘Wide apart and leading to different points are these two, ignorance, 
and what is known as wisdom. I believe Nachiketas to be one who 
desires knowledge, for even many pleasures did not tear thee away. 

‘Fools dwelling in darkness, wise in their own conceit, and puffed 
up with vain knowledge, go round and round, staggering to and fro, 
like blind men led by the blind. 

‘The hereafter never rises before the eyes of the careless child, deluded 
by the delusion of wealth. “This is the world,” he thinks, “there is no 
other” — ^thus he falls again and again under my sway. 

‘He (the Self) of whom many are not even able to hear, whom many, 
even when they hear of him, do not comprehend; wonderful is a man, 
when found, who is able to teach him (the Self) ; wonderful is he who 
comprehends him, when taught by an able teacher. 

‘That Self, when taught by an inferior man, is not easy to be known, 
even though often thought upon; unless it be taught by another, there 
is no way to it, for it is inconceivably smaller than what is small. 

‘That doctrine is not to be obtained by argument, but when it is de- 
clared by another, then, O dearest, it is easy to understand. Thou hast 
obtained it now; thou art truly a man of true resolve. May we have 
always an inquirer like thee!’ 

Nachiketas said: ‘I know that what is called a treasure is transient, 
for that eternal is not obtained by things which are not eternal. Hence 
the Nachiketa fire-sacrifice has been laid by me first; then, by means 
of transient things, I have obtained what is not transient.’ 

Yama said: ‘Though thou hadst seen the fulfilment of all desires, the 
foundation of the world, the endless rewards of good deeds, the shore 
where there is no fear, that which is magnified by praise, the wide 



INDIAN PIETY 


46 

abode, the rest, yet being wise thou hast with firm resolve dismissed it 
all 

‘The knowing Self is not born, it dies not; it sprang from nothing, 
nothing sprang from it. The Ancient is unborn, eternal, everlasting; he 
is not killed, though the body is killed. 

‘If the killer thinks that he kills, if the killed thinks that he is killed, 
they do not understand; for this one does not kill, nor is that one killed. 

‘The Self, smaller than small, greater than great, is hidden in the heart 
of that creature. A man who is free from desires and free from grief, sees 
the majesty of the Self by the grace of the Creator. 

‘Though sitting still, he walks far; though lying down, he goes every- 
where. Who, save myself, is able to know that God who rejoices and 
rejoices not.? 

‘The wise who knows the Self as bodiless within the bodies, as 
unchanging among changing things^ as great and omnipresent, does 
never grieve. 

‘That Self cannot be gained by the Veda, nor by understanding, nor 
by much learning. He whom the Self chooses, by him the Self can be 
gained. The Self chooses his body as his own. 

‘But he who has not first turned away from his wickedness, who is not 
tranquil, and subdued, or whose mind is not at rest, he can never obtain 
the Self even by knowledge. 

‘Who then knows where He is, He to whom the Brahmans and 
ICshatriyas arc (as it were) but food, and death itself a condiment.? 

{From the Katha Upanishad) 

THE ONE GOD 

The snarer who rules alone by his powers, who rules all the worlds 
by his powers, who is one and the same, while things arise and exist — 
they who know this are immortal. 

For there is one Rudra only, they do not allow a second, who rules 
all the worlds by his powers. He stands behind all persons, and after 
having created all worlds he, the protector, rolls it up at the end of 
time. 

That one god, having his eyes, his face, his arms, and his feet in every 
place, when producing heaven and earth, forges them together with his 
arms and his wings. 

He. the creator and supporter of the gods, Rudra, the great seer, the 



THE UPANISHADS 


47 

lord of all, he who formerly gave birth to Hiranyagarbha, may he endow 
us with good thoughts. 

O Rudra, thou dweller in the mountains, look upon us with that 
most blessed form of thine which is auspicious, not terrible, and reveals no 
evil! 

0 lord of the mountains, make lucky that arrow which thou, a dweller 
in the mountains, boldest in thy hand to shoot. Do not hurt man or 
beast! 

Those who know beyond this the High Brahman, the vast, hidden in 
the bodies of all creatures, and alone enveloping everything, as the Lord, 
they become immortal. 

1 know that great person (purusha) of sunlike lustre beyond the 
darkness. A man who knows him truly, passes over death; there is no 
other path to go. 

This whole universe is filled by this person (purusha), to whom 
there is nothing superior, from whom there is nothing different, than 
whom there is nothing smaller or larger, who stands alone, fixed like 
a tree in the sky. 

That which is beyond this world is without form and without suffer- 
ing. They who know it, become immortal, but others suffer pain indeed. 

That Bhagavat exists in the faces, the heads, the necks of all, he dwells 
in the cave (of the heart) of all beings, he is all-pervading, therefore he 
is the omnipresent Siva. 

That person is the great lord; he is the mover of existence, he possesses 
that purest power of reaching everything; he is light, he is undecaymg. 

The person, not la rger than a thumb, dwelling within, always dwelling 
in the heart of man, is perceived by the heart, the thought, the mind; 
they who know_it become immortal. 

The person with a thousand heads, a thousand eyes, a thousand feet, 
having compassed the earth on every side, extends beyond it by ten 
fingers’ breadth. 

That person alone (purusha) is all this, what has been and what will 
be; he is also the lord of immortality; he is whatever grows by food. 

Its hands and feet are everywhere, its eyes and head are everywhere, 
its ears are everywhere, it stands encompassing all in the world. 

S^p^ate froni_all the^senses, yet reflecting the qualities of all the.senses, 
it is the lord and ruler of all, it is. the great refuge of all. 

The embodied spirit within the town with n ine ga tes, the bird, flut- 



INDIAN PIETY 


48 

ters outwards, the ruler of the whole world, of all that rests and of all 
that moves. 

Grasping without hands, hasting without feet, he sees without eyes, 
he hears without ears. He knows what can be known, but no one knows 
him; they call him the first, the great person. 

The Self, smaller than small, greater than great, is hidden m the heart 
of the creature. A man who has left all grief behind, sees the majesty, the 
Lord, the passionless, by the grace of the creator. 

I know this undecaying, ancient one, the self of all things, being 
infinite and omnipresent. They declare that in him all birth is stopped, 
for the Brahma-students proclaim him to be eternal. 

{From the Svetasvatara Upanishad) 

THE IMMANENCE OF GOD 

He, the sun, without any colour, who with set purpose by means of 
his power produces endless colours, in whom all this comes together in 
the beginning, and comes asunder in the end — ^may he, the god, endow 
us with good thoughts. 

’ That Self indeed is fire, it is the sun, it is wind, it is moon; the same 
also is the starry firmament, it is Brahman, it is water, it is Prajapati. 

Thou art woman, thou art man; thou are youth, thou art maiden; 
thou, as an old man, totter est along on thy staff; thou art born with thy 
face turned everywhere. 

Thou art the dark-blue bee, thou art the green parrot with red eyes, 
thou art the thunder-cloud, the seasons, the seas. Thou art without begin- 
ning, because thou art infinite, thou from whom all worlds are born. 

There is one unborn being (female), red, white, and black, uniform, 
but pfoducing manifold offspring. There is one unborn being (male) 

! who loves her and lies by her;, there is another who leaves her, while she 
is eating what has to be eaten, 

Two birds, inseparable friends, cling to the same tree. One of them 
eats the sweet fruit, the other looks on without eating. 

On the same tree man sits grieving, immersed, bewildered, by his own 
Impotence, But when he sees the other lord contented, and knows his 
glory, then his grief passes away. 

He who does not know that indestructible being of the Rigveda, that 
highest ether-hke Self wherein ail the gods reside, of what use is the 
Rigveda to him.? Those only who know it, rest contented. 



THE UPANISHADS 


49 

That from which the maker (mayin) sends forth all this—the sacred 
verses, the offerings, the sacrifices, the panaceas, the past, the future, 
and all that the Vedas declare — m that the other is bound up through 
that art (may a) . 

Know then nature is art, and the great Lord the maker; the whole 
world is filled with what are his members. 

If a man has discerned him, who being one only, rules over every 
cause, in whom all this comes together and comes asunder again, who 
is the lord, the bestower of blessing, the adorable god, then he passes for 
ever into that peace. 

He, the creator and supporter of the gods, Rudra, the great seer, the 
lord of all, who saw Hiranyagarbha being born, may he endow us with 
good thoughts. 

He who is the sovereign of the gods, he in whom all the worlds rest, 
he who rules over all two-footed and four-footed beings, to that god let 
us sacrifice an oblation. 

He who has known him who is more subtle than subtle, in the midst 
of chaos, creating all things, having many forms, alone enveloping 
everything, the happy one (Siva) passes into peace for ever. 

He also was m time the guardian of this world, the lord of all, hidden 
in all beings. In him the Brahmarshis and the deities are united, and he 
who knows him cuts the fetters of death asunder. 

He who knows the blessed (Siva) hidden m all beings, like the subtle 
film that rises from out the clarified butter, alone enveloping everything 
— ^he who knows the god, is freed from all fetters. 

That god, the maker of all things, the great Self, always dwelling in 
the heart of man, is perceived by the heart, the soul, the mind; — they 
who know it become immortal. 

When the hg^Jhas men, there is no day, no night, neither existence 
nor non-existence; the blessed (Siva) alone is there. That is the eternal, 
the adorable light of Savitri — and the ancient wisdom proceeded thence. 

No one has grasped him above, or across, or in the middle. There is no 
image of him whose name is Great Glory. 

H^ Jorni cannot be seen,, no one perceives him with the eye. Those 
who through heart and mind know him thus abiding in the heart, 
become immortal. 

‘Thou art unborn,’ with these words some one comes near to thee, 
trembling. O Rudra, let thy gracious face protect me for ever! 

O Rudra! hurt us not in our offspring and descendants, hurt us not 



INDIAN PIETY 


50 

in our own lives, nor in our cows, nor in our horses! Do not slay our 
men in thy wrath, for, holding oblations, we call on thee always. 

(From the Svetasvatara U panishad) 

GOD IS WITHIN YOU 

In the imperishable and infinite Highest Brahman, wherein the two, 
knowledge and ignorance, are hidden, the one, ignorance, perishes, the 
other, knowledge, is immortal; but he who controls both, knowledge 
and ignorance, is another. 

It is he who, being one only, rules over every cause, over all forms, and 
over all germs; it is he who, in the beginning, bears in his thoughts the 
wise son, the fiery, whom he wishes to look on while he is born. 

In that field in which the god, after spreading out one net after 
another in various ways, draws it together again, the Lord, the great 
Self, having further created the lords, thus carries on his lordship over 
all. 

As the car of the sun shines, lighting up all quarters, above, below, and 
across, thus does that god, the holy, the adorable, being one, rule over all 
that has the nature of a germ. 

He, being one, rules over all and everything, so that the universal 
germ ripens its nature, diversifies all natures that can be ripened, and 
determines all qualities. 

Brahma knows this, which is hidden in the upanishads, which are 
hidden in the Vedas, as the Brahma-germ. The ancient gods and poets 
who knew it, they became it and were immortal. 

But he who is endowed with qualities, and performs works that arc 
to bear fruit, and enjoys the reward of whatever he has done, migrates 
through his own works, the lord of life, assuming all forms, led by the 
three Gunas,’’ and following the three paths. 

That lower one also, not larger than a thumb, but brilliant like the 
sun, who is endowed with personality and thoughts, with the quality 
of mind and the quality of body, is seen small even like the point of a 
goad. 

That living soul is to be known as part of the hundredth part of the 
point of a hair, divided a hundred times, and yet it is to be infinite. 

^ Three primeval dements, light, passicui and dullness which compose the world. Sec the 
Glossary under Qunas. 



THE UPANISHADS 


51 

It is not woman, it is not man, nor is it neuter; whatever body it takes, 
with that it is joined only. 

By means of thoughts, touching, seeing, and passions the incarnate 
Self assumes successively in various places various forms, in accordance 
with his deeds, just as the body grows when food and drink are poured 
into it. 

That incarnate Self, according to his own qualities, assumes many 
shapes, coarse or subtile, and having himself caused his union with them, 
he is seen as another and another, through the qualities of his acts, and 
through the qualities of his body. 

He who knows him who has no beginning and no end, in the midst 
of chaos, creating all things, having many forms, alone enveloping 
everything, is freed from all fetters. 

Those who know him who is to be grasped by the mind, who is not to 
be called the body, who makes existence and non-existence, the happy 
one (Siva) who also creates the elements, they have left the body. 

(From the Svetdsvataxa Upanishad) 

KNOW GOD 

Some wise men, deluded, speak of Nature, and others of Time as the 
cause of everything; but it is the greatness of God by which this Brahma- 
wheel is made to turn. 

It is at the command of him who always covers this world, the knower, 
the time of time, who assumes qualities and all knowledge, it' is at his 
command that this creation unfolds itself, which is called earth, water, 
fire, air, and ether; 

He who, after he has done that work and rested again, and after he 
has brought together the self with matter, with one, two, three, or eight, 
with time also and with the subtle qualities of the mind. 

Who after starting the works endowed with the three qualities,^ can 
order all things, yet when, in the absence of all these, he has caused the 
destruction of the work, goes on, being in truth different from all he has 
produced; 

He is the beginning, producing the causes which unite the soul with 
the body, and, being above the three kinds of time, past, present, future, 
he is seen as without parts, after we have first worshipped that adorable 
^ The Gunas referred to in the preceding secdon. 



INDIAN PIETY 


52 

god, who has many forms, and who is the true source of all things, as 
dwelling in our own mind. 

He is beyond all the forms of the world and of time, he is the other, 
from whom this world moves round, when one has known him who 
brings good and removes evil, the lord of bliss, as dwelling within the 
self, the immortal, the support of all. 

Let us know that highest great lord of lords, the highest deity of 
deities, the master of masters, the highest above, as God, the lord of the 
world, the adorable. 

There is no effect and no cause known of him, no one is seen like 
unto him or better; his high power is revealed as manifold, as inherent, 
acting as force and knowledge. 

There is no master of his in the world, no ruler of his, not even a sign 
of him. He is the cause, the lord of the lords of the organs, and there is of 
him neither parent nor lord. 

That only God who spontaneously covered himself, like a spider, with 
threads drawn from the first cause, grant us entrance into Brahman. 

He is the one God, hidden in all beings, all-pervading, the self within 
all beings, watching over all works, dwelling in all beings, the witness, 
the perceiver, the only one, free from qualities. 

He is the one ruler of many who do not act; he makes the one seed 
manifold. The wise who perceive him within their self, to them belongs 
ejternal happiness, not to others. 

He is the eternal among eternals, the thinker among thinkers, who, 
though one, fulfils the desires of many. He who has known that cause 
which is to be apprehended by Samkhya (philosophy) and Yoga (reli- 
gious discipline), he is freed from all fetters. 

The sun does not shine there, nor the moon and the stars, nor these 
lightnings, and much less this fire. When he shines, everything shines 
after him; by his light all this is lightened. 

He is the one bird in the midst of the world; he is also like the sun 
that has set in the ocean. A man knows him truly, passes over death; 
there is no other path to go. 

He makes all, he knows all, the self-caused, the knower, the destroyer 
' of time, who assumes qualities and knows everything, the master of 
nature and of man, the Iprd of the three qualities, the cause of the bond- 
age, the existence, and the liberation of the world. 

He who has become that, he is the immortal, remaining the lord, the 



THE UPANISHADS 


53 

knower, the ever-present guardian of this world, who rules this world 
for ever, for no one else is able to rule it. 

Seeking for freedom I go for refuge to that God who is the light of 
his own thoughts, he who first creates Brahman and delivers the Vedas 
to him; 

Who is without parts, without actions, tranquil, without fault, without 
taint, the highest bridge to immortality — ^like a fire that'has consumed its 
fuel. 

Only when men shall roll up the sky like a hide, will there be an end 
of misery, unless God has first been known.^ 

Through the power of his penance and through the grace of God has 
the wise Svetasvatara truly proclaimed Brahman, the highest and holiest, 
to the best of ascetics, as approved by the company of Rishis. 

This highest mystery in the Vedanta, delivered in a former age, should 
not be given to one whose passions have not been subdued, nor to one 
who is not a son, or who is not a pupil. 

If these truths have been told to a high-minded man, who feels the 
highest devotion for God, and for his Guru ^ as for God, then they will 
shine forth — then they will shine forth indeed. 

^ This may be considered the final message of the Upanishads. 

^ Preceptor. 



The Lord’s Song 

(THE BHAGAVAD-GITA) 


INTRODUCTION 

The Bhagavad-Gita stands in relation to Hinduism as the Sermon on 
the Mount stands in relation to the Christian teachings. It has been de- 
scribed as the “Essence of the Vedas.” An Indian saint has said: “41^ the 
Upanishads are the cows, the Lord Himself is the Milker, Arjuna, the 
calf, and those of purified understanding are the drinkers of the milk, the 
supremej^ jGita.” 

Originally it formed a section of Book Six of the great Hindu epic, 
the Mahabharata. It is in the form of a conversation between the warrior 
Arjuna and his charioteer, who really was the “Blessed Lord,” the god 
Krishna. War had become inevitable between the sons of Pandu (of 
which Arjuna was one) and their cousm Duryodhana and his brothers, 
the sons of the blind King Dhritarashtra, or briefly between the Pandavas 
and the Kurus. Just before the beginning of the battle, Arjuna refused 
to fight, when he saw he was going to kill his own kinsmen. TJhe.god 
Krishna explained, to him that no one could be killed, since men’s souls 
live for ever, and thereon the conversation began, extending to eighteen 
chaptep, covering every phase of ethical and religious questions, con- 
cerning the yoga of action, the justification for rituals and sacrifices, the 
manifestations of god in this physical world, and ending with the im- 
portant iiyunction on accepting Krishna as a refuge to whom all people 
of all classes could come and find peace and salvation. The old blind 
King, unable to watch the battle was offered sight by a great sage, but 
declined it, for he had no wish to see the slaughter among his own kins- 

54 


THE lord’s song 


55 

men. The great sage then granted Sanjaya the power of perceiving at 
a distance all that happened on the battlefield. Therefore, principally in 
the beginning and in the end, we see the remarks of Sanjaya, concerning 
the battle, while the questions and answers between Arjuna and the 
Lord Krishna, as reported by Sanjaya, form the substance of the main 
body of the work. 

The whole book breathes the Hindu mental and religious atmosphere, 
although some of the teachings, such as the emphasis on action and doing 
it without regard to selfish benefit but for devotion to God, and par- 
ticularly the denial of materialism and emphatic Vedic assertion of the 
spirit behind all things, offer viewpoints that are either present or are 
greatly needed in the modern world. Anyway, the contrasts are as 
important as the similarities, and it is because the work is characteristi- 
cally the most important product of the Hindu religious spirit that its 
influence and position in India have been so great. Dr. E. J. Thomas 
calls it “one of the greatest of the religious phenomena of the world” 
and “the earliest and still the greatest monument of Hindu religion.” 

The Bhagavad-Gita has not the same appeal for me as the Buddhist 
Dhammapada, but that is no reason why it should be less important to 
the Hindu nation. What is important is to note the progress of the Hindu 
mind from the Upanishads to the Gtta and its increasing clarity of 
thought and ways of thinking closer to our own. The work was prob- 
ably written in the second century before the Christian era, although no 
approximate date can be assigned. So important did it become in the 
Hindu religious thought that every system had to square itself with the 
teachings of the Lord’s Song. There are strands of pantheism, monothe- 
ism, theism and deism in it. Whether it was added to by successive writers 
is less important than the fact that these teachings were, and still are, 
accepted by the Hindu people as the ultimate embodiment of religious 
wisdom. Any attempt by Western higher critics to separate the several 
strands of belief from one another in the Song and “restore” the 
“original text” is bound to be both foolish and ridiculous. Certain schol- 
ars, presupposing that one man could hold only one consistent system of 
belief and that that system must be the one they hold to be the original 
one, and ignoring the fact that such a document was necessarily a syn- 
thesis of many streams of influence, satisfactory to its believers, have at- 
tempted the foolish task of determining its original composition.^ It 
never occurs, to them that the world could be God and at the same time 
a' personal God could exist — rather fine distmctions that exist in academic 



INDIAN PIETY 


56 

minds only. The great power of the Gita lies in the fact that it teaches a 
“loving faith” or devotion {bhal{ti) to a personal God, Krishna. The 
final message of Krishna is: “Giving up all Dharmas, come unto me 
alone for refuge. I shall free thee from all sins; grieve not.” (XVIII, 66) 

It IS extremely important that such a testimony of the Hindu leligious 
spirit should not be translated by a scholar of Sanskrit, but by a Hindu 
follower who is at home with its language and at one with the spirit of 
Its teachings, and who knows what the different verses mean, directly 
and simply, to the Indian people. 

The Bhagavad-Gita has engaged the loving labors of many transla- 
tors, and many excellent translations exist, such as Lionel D. Barnett’s 
“Lord’s Song” (Temple Classics) with a long introduction and copious 
notes, E. J. Thomas’s “The Song of the Lord” (Wisdom of the East 
Series), the well-known version by Annie Besant (Theosophical Press), 
Sir Edwin Arnold’s “The Song Celestial” (Triibner), M. M. Chatterji’s 
“The Lord’s Lay” (Houghton), with commentary and notes and ref- 
erences to the Christian Scriptures, and the scholarly translation by 
Telang in the Sacred Books of the East. I have, however, chosen the 
translation by Swami Paramananda (The Vedanta Center) because I 
believe, more than the others, it shows that mastery of the languages 
and that profound understanding of the thought content, so that the 
result is, as it should be, an easy, effective and mature version, without 
either the cumbersomeness of the scholarly or the surreptitious para- 
phrasing of the over-interpretative. As the editor of the book remarks, 
“The letter must be illumined by the spirit; and none can read the 
translation without feeling convinced that the head, heart, and life have 
co-operated in the making of it ” That is no mean compliment. I have 
kept the footnotes by Swami Paramananda, 



The Blessed Lord’s Song 

SRIMAD-BHAGAVAD-GITA 

Translated by Swami Paramananda 


CHAPTER I 


Dhritardshtra as\ed: 

1. O Sanjaya, assembled together on the sacred plain of Kurukshetra, 
being desirous to fight, what did my people and the Pandavas do? 

Sanjaya replied: 

2. The Prince Duryodhana, having seen the Pandava forces arrayed, 
approached his teacher (Drona) and spoke these words: 

3. Behold this mighty host of the sons of Pandava arrayed by the son 
of Drupada, thy gifted pupil. 

4-6. Here are heroes, mighty bowmen, equals in battle to Bhima and 
Arjuna — the great warriors, Yuyudhana, Virata, Drupada; valiant Drish- 
taketu, Chekitana and the King of Kashi; Purujit, Kunti-Bhoja and 
Shaibya, the greatest of men; the powerful Yudhamanyu and the brave 
Uttamaujas; the son of Subhadra and the sons of Draupadi; all of them 
mighty car-warriors. 

7. O best of twice-born,^ hear also of those who are distinguished 
among ourselves, the leaders of my army; I relate their names for thy 
information. 

^ A Brahmin is called a twice-born because he is born for the second tune when he receives 
bis holy thread or badge for spiritual life. 


57 



INDIAN PIETY 


58 

8 Thyself and Bhishma and Kama, and Kripa, the victorious m battle, 
\swatthama, Vikarna, Jayadratha, the son of Somadatta. 

9. Also there are many heroes skillful in battle armed with many 
kinds of weapons, determined to lay down their lives for my sake. 

10. Yet this army of ours, though commanded by Bhishma, seems 
insufficient; but their army, commanded by Bhima, seems sufficient. 

11. Therefore ye all, being stationed in your proper places in the 
divisions of the army, support Bhishma alone. 

12. The powerful, the eldest of the Kurus (Bhishma), the grandsire, 
in order to cheer him (Duryodhana), sounded aloud a lion’s roar and 
blew his conch. 

13. Then (following Bhishma), conchs, kettledrums, tabors, trumpets 
and cowhorns suddenly sounded. The noise was tremendous. 

14. Then Madhava (Krishna) and Pandava (Arjuna) stationed in 
their great war chariot, yoked to white horses, also blew their divine 
conchs. 

15. Hrishikesha^ (Krishna) blew the Panchajanya; and Dhananjaya® 
(Arjuna), Devadatta^ (God-given); and Vrikodara* (Bhima) /doer of 
terrible deeds, blew his large conch Paundra. 

16. King Yudhishthira, son of Kunti, blew the conch named Ananta- 
vijaya (endless victory). Nakula and Sahadeva their Sughosha and 
Manipushpaka. 

17. The King of Kashi, the great bowman, and the mighty warrior 
Shikhandi, Dhrishtadyumna, Virata and the unconquered hero, Satyaki; 

18. (King) Drupada and the sons of Draupadi and the mighty-armed 
son of Subhadra, each blew respectively his own conch, O Lord of the 
Earth! 

19. That tremendous uproar, filling earth and sky with sound, rent 
the hearts of Dhritarashtra’s party. 

20. Then, O Lord of the Earth! the son of Pandu (Arjuna), whose 
ensign was the monkey, seeing Dhritarashtra’s army arrayed and the 
throwing of weapons about to begin, raised his bow and spoke the 
following words to Krishna: 

^ The Lord of the senses, 

® Conqueror of wealth. 

® Name of the conch, 

* Havmg the belly of a %er, iodicating the physical formation of a hero. 



THE BLESSED LORd’s SONG 


59 


Arjuna said: 

21-23. O Achyuta (changeless, Krishna), place my chariot between 
the two armies desirous of battle, so that I may see with whom I have 
to fight in this outbreak of war, for I desire to observe those who are 
assembled here for battle wishing to please the evil-minded son of 
Dhritarashtra by taking his side. 

Sanjaya said: 

24-25. O King! Requested thus by Gudakesha^ (Arjuna), Krishna, 
having placed the war chariot between the two armies in front of 
Bhishma, Drona and all the rulers of the earth, spoke thus: O son of 
Pritha (Arjuna), behold all the Kuru forces gathered together. 

26. Then Partha (Arjuna) saw there in both armies arrayed grand- 
fathers, fathers-in-law, uncles, brothers and cousins, his own sons and 
their sons and grandsons, comrades, teachers and friends. 

27. Then he, the son of Kunti (Arjuna), seeing all his kinsmen sta- 
tioned in their ranks, spoke thus sorrowfully, overwhelmed with deep 
compassion: 

Arjuna said: 

28. O Krishna, seeing these my kinsmen, gathered here desirous to 
fight, my limbs fail me, my mouth is parched; 

29. My body shivers, my hair stands on end, my Gandiva (bow) 
slips from my hand, my skin is burning. 

30. O Keshava (Krishna, the slayer of Keshi), I am not able to stand 
upright, my mind is in a whirl and I see adverse omens. 

31. O Krishna, neither do I see any good in slaying my own people 
in this strife. I desire neither victory, nor kingdom, nor pleasures. 

32-34. Teachers, uncles, sons and grandsons, grandfathers, fathers-in- 
law, brothers-in-law, besides other kinsmen, for whose sake empire, 
enjoyment and pleasures are desired, they themselves stand here in 
battle, forsaking life and wealth. What avail, then, is kingdom, enjoy- 
ment, or even life, O Govinda (Krishna) ? 

35. These warriors I do not wish to kill, even though I am killed by 
them, not even for the dominion over the three worlds, how much less 
for the sake of this earth, O slayer of Madhu. 

^The conqueror o£ sleep. 



6o 


INDIAN PIETY 


36. O Janardana (giver of prosperity and salvation, Krishna), what 
pleasure could there be for us by killing the sons of Dhritarashtra? Sin 
alone would take possession of us by slaying these evil-doers. 

37. Therefore we ought not to kill these sons of Dhritarashtra who are 
our relations; for how can we, O Madhava (Krishna), obtain happiness 
by destroying our own kinsmen? 

38. Although these (my enemies), their understanding being overpow- 
ered by greed, see no evil from extinction of families and no sin m hos- 
tility to friends. 

39. But, O Janardana, why should not we turn away from this sin, 
seeing clearly the evil in destruction of family? 

40. From the destruction of a family the immemorial religious rites 
of that family perish. Spirituality being destroyed, that whole family is 
overpowered by unrighteousness. 

41. O Krishna, from the predominance of unrighteousness, the women 
of that family become corrupt; and women being corrupted, there arises 
intermingling of castes. 

42. This intermingling of castes leads the destroyers of the family to 
hell, as also the family itself; for their ancestors fall, being deprived of 
the offerings of rice ball and water 

43. By these misdeeds of the slayers of the family, bringing about con- 
fusion of caste, the immemorial religious rites of family and caste are 
destroyed. 

44. O Jan^dana, we have heard that for such men, whose household 
rehgious rites have been destroyed, the dwelling in hell is inevitable. 

45. Alas! what a great sm we are resolved to incur, being prepared to 
slay our kinsmen, actuated by greed of kingdom and pleasure. 

46. Verily, it would be better for me if the sons of Dhritarashtra, 
weapons in hand, should slay me in the battle, unresisting and unarmed. 

Sanjaya said: 

47. Speaking thus in the midst of the batdefield, Arjuna sank down 
on the seat of his war chariot, casting aside his bow and arrows, his mind 
overwhelmed with sorrow. 

Here ends the First Chapter called 
''The Grief of Arjuna'' 


’ Certain funeral rites performed for the welfare of the departed ones. 



THE BLESSED LORd’s SONG 


6l 


CHAPTER II 


Sanjaya said: 

1. To him (Arjuna) whose mind was thus overpowered by pity and 
grief and eyes dimmed with tears, Madhusudana (Krishna) spoke these 
words: 

The Blessed Lord said: 

2. O Arjuna, whence comes upon thee in this critical moment this 
depression unworthy of an Aryan, disgraceful, and contrary to the 
attainment of heaven ? 

3. O son of Pritha, yield not to unmanliness; it does not befit thee. 
Casting off this mean faint-heartedness, arise, O terror of thy foes! 

Arjuna said: 

4. O destroyer of enemies and slayer of Madhu (Krishna), how can I 
fight with arrows in battle against Bhishma and Drona, who are worthy 
to be worshipped (by me) , 

5. Instead of slaying these great-souled masters, it would be better 
even to live in this life by begging; but killing them, all our enjoyments 
of wealth and desires, even in this world, will be stained with blood. 

6. Indeed I know not which of the two is better for us, whether we 
should conquer them or they should conquer us. For those very sons 
of Dhritarashtra stand before us, after slaying whom we should not care 
to live. 

7. With my nature overpowered by pity and depression and mind 
confused about duty, I implore Thee (O Krishna) tell me with cer- 
tainty what is good for me. I am Thy disciple, instruct me, who have 
taken refuge in Thee. 

8. For I see not what can remove this grief which withers my senses, 
even if I should obtain unrivalled and flourishing dominion over the 
earth and rulership over the gods. 

Sanjaya said: 

9. Gudakesha (Arjuna), the conqueror of his foes, having thus spoken 
to the Lord of the senses (Krishna), said: “I shall not fight, O Govinda!” 
and became silent. 

10. O de§ceadant of King Bharata, Hrishikesha (Krishna), as if 



62 


INDIAN PIETY 


smilingly, spoke these words to him (Arjuna), who was thus gnef- 
stricken in the midst of the two armies. 

Th^ BL'Ssed Lord said: 

11. Thou hast been mourning for those who should not be mourned 
for and yet thou speakcst (apparent) words of wisdom; l^t tlic truly, 
wise mourn not either for the dead or for the living. 

12. It IS not that I have never existed before, nor thou, nor all these 
kings. Nor is it that all of us shall cease to exist hereafter. 

13. As in this body the embodied soul passes through childhood, 
youth and old age, in the same manner it goes from one body to another; 
therefore the wise are never deluded regarding it (the soul). 

14. O son of Kunti, the feelings of heat, cold, pleasure, pain, are pro- 
duced from the contact of the senses with sense-objects; they are with 
beginning and end, transitory. Therefore, O Bharata, endure them 
(bravely). 

15. O mighty among men, he is fit to attain immortality who is 
serene and not afflicted by these sensations, but is the same in pleasure 
and pain. 

16. Ther^^ no existence for the uiirealjm^ Ae^real can never be non- 
existent, The Seers of Truth know the nature and final ends of both. 

17* Kjiow That to be indestructible by which all this is pervaded. No 
one is ever able to destroy that Immutable. 

18. These bodies are perishable; but the dwellers in these bodies are 
eternal, indestructible and impenetrable. Therefore fight, O descendant 
of Bharata! 

19. He who considers this (Self) as a slayer or he who thinks that 
diis (Self) is slain, neither of these knows the Truth. For It does not 
sl^^^or_is It^ slain. 

20. JTJ^ (Self X is never born, nor does It die, nor after^nce having 
fe^^.6oes It^o into non-bein^ This (Self) is unborn, eternal, change- 
less, ancient. It is never destroyed even when the body is destroyed. 

21. Q^son_Q£Eritha,.-how-can he slay or cause the slaying of another 
who knows this (Self) to be indestructible, eternal, unborn and im- 
mutable.?* 

22. As man casts off worn-out garments and puts on others which 
are new, similarly the embodied soul, casting off worn-out bodies, enters 
into others which arei new. 



THE BLESSED LORd’s SONG 63 

23. Sword cannot pierce It (Self), j&re cannot burn It, water cannot 
wet It, and air cannot dry It. 

24. It cannot be pierced, nor burned, nor wet, nor dried. It is eternal, 
all-pervading, unchangeable, immovable, everlasting. 

25. This (Self) is said to be unmanifested, unthinkable, unchange- 
able; therefore knowing this to be so, thou shouldst not grieve. 

26. But even if thou thinkest that this (Self) is subject to constant 
birth and death, even then, O mighty-armed, thou shouldst not grieve. 

27. F or tha t which is born death is certain, and for the dead birth is 
.certain. Therefore grieve not over that which is unavoidable. 

28. O Bharata, all creatures are unmamfested in the beginning, mani- 
fested in their middle state, unmamfested again in the end. What is 
there to grieve about ? 

29. Some look upon It (Self) with wonder, some speak about It with 
wonder, some hear about It with wonder and yet others, even after hear- 
ing about It, know It not. 

30. The dweller in the body of everyone is ever indestructible; there- 
fore, O Bharata, thou shouldst not grieve over any creature. 

31. Looking upon it even from the standpoint of thine own Dharma,^ 
thou shouldst not waver, fpr nothing is higher for a Kshatriya (warrior) 
than a righteous -war. 

32. O son of Pritha, fortunate indeed are Kshatriyas to whom comes 
unsought, as an open gate to heaven, such a war. 

33. But if thou shouldst not take part in this righteous war, then 
forfeiting thine own duty and honor, thou shalt incur sin. 

34. People will ever speak ill of thee; for the esteemed, dishonor is 
even worse than death. 

35. These great car-warriors will think that thou hast withdrawn 
from the battle through fear. And thou shalt be thought of lightly by 
those who once honored thee highly. 

36. Thine enemies will speak unutterable disgraceful things against 
thee and blame thy valor. What can be more painful than this ? 

37. If thou fallest in battle, thou shalt obtain heaven; if thou conquer- 
est, thou shalt enjoy the earth. Therefore, O son of Kunti, arise and be 
resolved to fight. 

38. Regarding alike pleasure and pain, gain and loss, victory and 
defeat, fight thou the battle. Thus sin will not stain thee. 

39. Thus I have declared unto thee the wisdom of Self-realization, 

‘ Morrl and religious duty. 



INDIAN PIETY 


64 

Listen now, O son of Pritha, regarding Yoga, by knowing which thou 
shalt be freed from the bonds of Karma (cause and effect). 

40. In this (Yoga) there is neither waste of effort nor possibility of 
evil results. Even a little practice of this (Yoga) delivers one from great 
fear. 

41. O son of Kuru, in this (Yoga), the well-resolved mind is single 
and one-pointed; but the purposes of the irresolute mind are many- 
branched and endless. 

42. O son of Pritha, those who delight in the flowery speech of the 
unwise and are satisfied with the mere letter of the Vedas (Scriptures) 
saying: “There is naught else”; 

43. And those who are full of desires for self-gratification, regarding 
heaven ^ as their highest goal, and are engaged in many intricate Scrip- 
tural rites just to secure pleasure and power as the result of their deeds 
for their future incarnations; 

44. Whose discrimination is stolen away by the love of power and 
pleasure and who are thus deeply attached therein, (for such people) 
it is impossible to obtain either firm conviction (in purpose) or God- 
consciousness. 

"45. The Vedas deal with the three Gunas^ O Arjuna, be thou free 
from these three Gunas; free from the pairs of opposites (cold and heat, 
pleasure and pain); ever steadfast, be thou free from (thoughts of) 
acquiring or keeping and self-possessed. 

46. To the Brahmana, the knower of Truth, all the Vedas are of as 
little use as a small water-tank is during the time of a flood, when water 
is everywhere.® 

47. To work alone thou hast the right, but never to the fruits thereof. 
Be thou neither actuated by the fruits of action, nor be thou attached to 
inaction. 

48. OJDhananjaya, abandoning attachment and regarding success 
and failure alike, be steadfast in Yoga and perform thy duties. Even- 
--imndednessJs~c:alleAToga. 

49. O Dhananjaya, work (with desire for results) is far inferior to 
work with understanding. Therefore seek refuge in the Yoga of under- 
standing. Wretched indeed are those who work for results. 

50. Being possessed with this understanding, one frees one’s self even 

^ Heaven is the temporary abode of highest pleasure. 

^ Satt^ ^ quality of goodness; quality of acdvity and passion; ,;^tmas, quality of 
darkness and inertia. 

®This verse shows the difFerence between mere book knowledge and direct vision of Truth. 



THE BLESSED LORd’s SONG 65 

in this life from good and evil. Therefore engage thyself in this Yoga. 
Skillfulness in action is called Yoga. 

51. The wise, possessed with knowledge, abandoning the fruits of 
their actions, become freed from the fetters of birth and reach that state 
which IS beyond all evil. 

52. When thine intellect will cross beyond the mire of delusion, then 
alone shalt thou attain to indifference regarding things heard and yet 
to be heard. 

53. When thine intellect, tossed by the various conflicting opinions of 
the Scriptures, will become firmly established in the Self, then thou shalt 
attain Yoga (Self-realization or union with God). 

Arjuna said: 

54. O Keshava, what are the signs of the man of steady wisdom, one 
who has attained God-consciousness? How does the man of steady 
wisdom speak ? How does he sit ? How does he walk ? 

The Blessed Lord said: 

55. O Partha, when a man is satisfied in the Self by Self alone and 
has completely cast out all desires from the mind, then he is said to be of 
Steady wisdom. 

56. He whose mind is not agitated in calamities and who has no 
longing for pleasure, free from attachment, fear and anger, he indeed is 
said to be a saint of steady wisdom. 

57. He who is free from all attachment and neither rejoices on receiv- 
ing good nor is vexed on receiving evil, his wisdom is well-established. 

58. When he completely withdraws his senses from sense-objects as 
the tortoise withdraws its limbs, then his wisdom becomes well-estab- 
lished. 

59. The embodied, through the practice of abstinence (i.e. not giv- 
ing food to the senses), can deaden the feelings of the senses, but long- 
ing still lingers in the heart; all longings drop off when he has seen the 
Supreme. 

fe. O son of Kunti, dangerous are the senses, they even carry away 
forcibly the mind of a discriminative man who is striving for perfection. 

61. The man of steady wisdom, having subdued them all (senses), 
becomes fixed in Me, the Supreme. His wisdom is well-established whose 
senses are under control. 

Thinking of sense-objects, man becomes attached thereto. From at- 
tachment arises longing and from longing anger is born. 



66 


INDIAN PIETY 


63. From anger arises delusion; from delusion, loss of memory is 
caused. From loss of memory, the discriminative facultv is luined and 
from the ruin of discrimination, he perishes.^ 

64. But the self-subjugated attains peace and moves among objects 
with the senses under control, free from any longing or aversion. 

65. In peace there is an end to all misery and the peaceful mind 
soon becomes well-established m wisdom. 

66. There is no wisdom for the unsteady and there is no meditation 
for the unsteady and for the unmeditative there is no peace. How can 
there be any happiness for the peaceless? 

67. For the mind that yields to the uncontrolled and wandering 
senses, carries away his wisdom just as a boat on water is carried away 
by wind. 

68. Therefore, O mighty-armed, his wisdom is established whose 
senses are well-restrained from all objects of sense. 

69. That which is night to all beings, therein the self-subjugated 
remains awake; and in that where all beings are awake, that is night for 
the knower of Self.^ 

70. As the ocean remains calm and unaltered though the waters flow 
into it, similarly a self-controlled saint remains unmoved when desires 
enter into him; such a saint alone attains peace, but not he who craves 
the objects of desire. 

71. That man attains peace who, abandoning all desires, moves about 
without attachment and longing, without the sense of “I” and “mine.’’ 

72. O son of Pritha, this is the state of dwelling in Brahman (absolute 
Truth) ; having attained this, no one is ever deluded. Being established 
in this knowledge even at the end of life, one attains oneness with 
Brahman (the Supreme). 

Here ends the Second Chapter called 
*'Sdnkhya-Yoga, or The Path of Wisdom^* 

^ when a greedy man secs a bag of gold and begms to think of its value, attachment for 
the thing grows in his heart; from attachment he feels intense longing to get possession of 
It and when anything or anybody mterferes with the gratification of his desire, it results in 
anger. From anger delusion rises, i.c., confusion of understanding; then his memory 
fails him, 1 e., he forgets his position and duty m life, and when he is in this state, without 
discnmination of right and wrong, he does things to cause his own ruin. 

® The spiritual plane, which to ordinary mortals is like night, full of darkness, is like day, 
full of clearness and light, to the wise ones; and the sense plane, where the ordinary minds 
are wide awake and active, there the wise men arc as if asleep, knowing the futility of 
sense desire, These sire the two poles of human existence represented by night and day. 



THE BLESSED LORd’s SONG 


67 


CHAPTER III 


Ar'juna said: 

1. O Janardana, O Keshava (Krishna), if to thy mind (the path of) 
wisdom is superior to (the path of) action, then why art thou engaging 
me in this terrible action? 

2. By these seemingly conflicting words ^ thou art bewildering my 
understanding; therefore tell me with certainty that one of these, by 
following which I can attain the highest. 

The Blessed Lord said: 

3. O sinless one, in this world twofold is the path already described 
by me. The path of wisdom is for the meditative and the path of work is 
for the active. 

4. A man does not attain to freedom from action by non-performance 
of action, nor does he attain to perfection merely by giving up action. 

5. No one can ever rest even for an instant without performing action, 
for all are impelled by the Gunas (qualities), born of Prakriti (Nature), 
to act incessantly. 

He who, restraining the organs of action, sits holding thoughts of 
sense-objects in his mind, that self-deluded one is called a hypocrite. 

7. But, O Arjuna, he who, controlling the senses by the mind, follows 
without attachment the path of action with his organs of action, he is 
esteemed. 

8. Do thou therefore perform right and obligatory actions, for action 
is superior to inaction. Without work, even the bare maintenance of thy 
body would not be possible. 

9. This world is bound by actions, except when they are performed 
for the sake of Yajna^ Therefore, O son of Kunti, do thou perform 
action without attachment. 

10. In the beginning the Lord of creatures, having created mankind, 
together with Yajna, said: “By this (Yajna) ye shall prosper and obtain 
all desired results, like Kamadhuk.® 

11. “By this (Yajna) ye shall please the Devas (bright ones) and the 

^ Sometimes praising work, sometimes praising wisdom. 

® Religious ceremonies, sacrifices, worship, etc. 

® The symbolic cow who possesses the cxtraordmary quality of giving to the milker what- 
ever he desires- 



68 


INDIAN PIETY 


Devas, in their turn, will cherish you. Thus by cherishing one another, 
ye shall obtain the highest good. 

12. “The Devas, pleased by the Yajna, will bestow upon you all the 
objects of your desire.” He who enjoys the objects given by the Devas 
without offering to them, he is indeed a thief. 

13. The righteous, eating the remnants of Yajna (sacrifice), become 
free from all sins; but the unrighteous, who cook for themselves, eat sin. 

14. Creatures come forth from food; food is produced from rain; rain 
comes as the result of Yajna; and Yajna is born of Karma (action). 

15. Know that Karma rises from the Vedas and Vedas from the Im- 
perishable. Therefore the all-pervading Truth (Brahman) is ever estab- 
lished in Yajna (sacrifice). 

16. He who here (on earth) does not follow the wheel thus set revolv- 
ing, lives in sin and sensuality; O Partha, he lives in vain. 

17. That man, who is devoted to the Self, is satisfied with Self and is 
content in the Self alone, for him there is nothing to do. 

18. For him there is nothing in this world to gain by action or to lose 
by inaction; nor does he need to depend on any being for any object. 

19. Therefore, being unattached, perform thy duties (the work that 
ought to be done) unceasingly; for through the performance of action^ 
unattached, man attains the highest. 

20. Verily, by work alone, Janaka^ and other (great souls) attained 
perfection. Also just from the point of view of benefiting mankind, thou 
shouldst perform action. 

21. Whatsoever a superior (man) does, that alone inferior men do. 
Whatever example he sets by his actions, that the people (masses) 
follow. 

22. O Partha, there is nothing for Me to accomplish; nothing there is in 
the three worlds imattained or to be attained by Me, and yet I continue 
in action. 

23. For if I do not work unceasingly, O Partha, men would follow my 
path (example) in every way. 

24. If I did not work, these worlds would perish.® I should cause the 
confusion of castes,® and also the destruction of all beings. 

25. O descendant of Bharata, as the ignorant (who are attached to 

^ The great king who was noted for his wisdom and non-attachment, 

® From the lack of social, moral and spintual examples, 

' Order or division of qualities among men. 



THE BLESSED LORd’s SONG 69 

results) work, so also (with the same fervor) the wise should act, devoid 
of attachment, being desirous to help mankind. 

26. One should not unsettle the understanding of the ignorant who 
are attached to action; the man of wisdom, by steadily performing ac- 
tions, should engage (the ignorant) in all right action. 

27. All actions are performed by the Gunas, born of Prakriti (Nature) . 
One whose understanding is deluded by egoism alone thinks: “I am the 
doer.” 

28. But, O mighty-armed, the Seer of Truth, understanding the divi- 
sions of Guna and Karma (quahties, senses and actions), and knowing 
that it is only the senses which run after sense-objects, does not become 
deluded therein. 

29. A man o£ perfect wisdom should not unsettle the people of small 
and imperfect understanding, who are deluded by the qualities born of 
Nature and are attached to the function of the Gunas (senses). 

30. Surrendering all action to Me and fixing the mind on the Self, 
devoid of hope and egoism,^ and free from the fever (of grief), fight, O 
Arjuna. 

31. Those who constantly practise this teaching of Mine with true 
faith and devotion and unflinching heart, they too are freed from (the 
fetters of) action. 

32. But those who find fault with my teaching and do not follow it, 
such self-deluded ones, devoid of all knowledge and discrimination, 
know them to be ruined. 

33. Even a wise man acts according to his nature; beings follow 
nature: What can restraint do.? 

34. Attachment and aversion of the senses are based on sense-objects; 
let none come under the sway of these two. They are his enemies. 

35. Better one’s own duty, though devoid of merit, than the duty of 
another, well performed. Better is death, in following one’s own duty; 
the duty of another is full of danger. 

Arjuna said: 

36. But, O Descendant of Vrishni (Krishna), impelled by what 
power does a man commit sin even against his wish, constrained, as it 
were, by force,? 

^ Longing for results. 

* Sense of “I” and “Mine.” 



INDIAN PIETY 


70 

The Blessed Lord said: 

37. It IS desire, it is anger, born of Rajo-Guna (quality of passion) ; 
of unappeasable craving and of great sin; know this as the foe m this 
world/ 

38. As fire is enveloped by smoke, as a mirror by dust, as an embryo 
by the womb, so is this (Self) covered by that. 

39. O son of Kunti, wisdom is covered by this insatiable fire of desire, 
the constant enemy of the wise. 

40. The senses, mind and intellect are said to be its seats; through these 
it deludes the embodied one by covering his wisdom. 

41. Therefore, O mightiest of the Bharata race, first subduing the 
senses, kill this (desire), the sinful, destroyer of wisdom and Self-knowl- 
edge. 

42. The senses are said to be superior (to the body), the mind is super- 
ior to the senses and intellect is superior to the mind; and that which is 
superior to the intellect is He (Atman, Self). 

43. O mighty-armed, thus knowing Him who is superior to the intel- 
lect, and subduing self by the Self, destroy this enemy in the form of 
desire, difficult to overcome. 

Here ends the Third Chapter called 
Karma-Yoga, or The Path of WorI(' 

CHAPTER IV 


The Blessed Lord said: 

1. I declared this imperishable Yoga to Vivasvan, and Vivasvan told 
It to Manu, Manu taught it to Ikshvaku. 

2. Thus, handed down in regular succession, the royal sages knew it. 
This Yoga through long lapse of time has been lost in this world, O 
Parantapa (Arjuna). 

3. That same ancient Yoga has been (again) today declared to thee 
by Me, for thou art my devotee and my friend. This is the supreme 
secret. 

Arjuna said: 

4. Later was thy birth and the birth of Vivasvan was prior to thine. 
How, then, am I to know that thou didst declare this in the beginning? 

^ Dc«jre And anger are inseparable, as anger is caused by obstructed desire. 



THE BLESSED LORD's SONG 


71 


The Blessed Lord said: 

5. O Arjuna, both you and I have gone through many births. I know 
them all, but thou knowest them not, O Parantapa. 

6. Though I am unborn and of unchangeable nature, and though I 
am Lord of all beings, yet by ruling over my Prakriti (Nature) I come 
into being by my own Maya (mysterious power). 

7. O Bharata, whenever there is decline of virtue and predominance 
of vice, then I embody Myself. 

8. For the protection of the good and for the destruction of evil-doers 
and for the re-establishment of Dharma (virtue and religion) I am born 
from age to age. 

9. He who thus understands truly My Divine birth and action is not 
born again on leaving his body, O Arjuna, but he attains unto Me. 

10. Freed from attachment, fear and anger, being absorbed in Me and 
taking refuge in Me, purified by the fire of wisdom, many have attained 
My Being. 

11. In whatever way men worship Me, in the same way I fulfil their 
desires. O Partha, in every way men follow My path. 

12. Those who long for success in this world worship the gods, for 
in the human world success is quickly attained by actions. 

13. The fourfold caste ^ was created by Me according to Guna and 
Karma (qualities and actions). Although I am the author (of that), yet 
know me to be the non-doer and changeless. 

14. Actions pollute Me not, nor have I any desire for the fruits of 
action. He who knows Me thus, is not bound by action. 

15. Kjiowmg this, the ancient seekers after liberation performed action. 
Do thou, therefore, also perform action as did the ancients in olden 
time. 

16. Even wise men are bewildered regarding what is action and what 
is inaction. Therefore I shall teach thee that action, by knowing which 
thou shalt be freed from all evil. 

17. For verily the nature of right action should be understood, also 
that of unlawful action and of maction. The nature of Karma (action) 
is indeed very difficult to understand. 

'Brahmana represents spintual qualities, — ^goodness, serenity, etc. Kshatrya stands for 
the combination of Sattwa (goodness) and Rajas (passion, ambition). Vaisya, merchant 
class, IS represented by Rajas (passion) and Tamas (dullness) . Sudra, or the servant class, 
is typified by Tamas (dullness, ignorance and inertia). In short, this fourfold caste gives an 
organized form of division oi labor, placing each one in a position according to his quality 
and capacity. 



INDIAN PIETY 


72 

18. He who sees inaction m action and action in inaction, he is intelli- 
gent among men; he is a man of established wisdom and a true per- 
former of all actions."^ 

19. Him the sages call wise whose undertakings are devoid of desire 
for results and of plans, whose actions are burned by the fire of wisdom. 

20. Having abandoned attachment for the fruits of action, ever con- 
tent and dependent on none, though engaged in action, yet he does 
nothing. 

21. Being freed from longing, with self under control, and giving up 
all sense of possession (ownership), he is not tainted by sin merely by 
performing bodily action. 

22. Content with whatever comes without effort, undisturbed by the 
pairs of opposites (pleasure and pain, heat and cold), free from envy, 
even-minded m success and failure, though acting (he) is not bound. 

23. One whose attachment is gone, who is liberated, whose mind is 
well-established in wisdom, who works for sacrifice alone, his whole 
Karma melts away. 

24. Brahman (absolute Truth) is the offering, Brahman is the obla- 
tion, the sacrificial fire is (another form of) Brahman and by Brahman 
is the sacrifice performed. Thus, by performing actions with the con- 
sciousness of Brahman, he reaches Brahman alone. 

25. Some Yogis offer sacrifices to the Devas, while others perform 
sacrifice in the fire of Brahman by offering self by the self alone. 

26. Some offer the sense of hearing and other senses as oblation in the 
fire of control; still others offer sound and other sense-objects as oblation 
in the fire of the senses. 

27. Others offer all the actions of the senses and the functions of the 
vital forces as oblation in the fire of self-control, lighted by wisdom. 

28. Some offer wealth as sacrifice; some, austerity and Yoga as sacrifice; 
still others, of rigid vow and self-control, offer study of the Scriptures 
and wisdom as sacrifice. 

29. Yet others offer as sacrifice the outgoing breath in the incoming 
and the incoming breath in the outgoing, stopping the courses of the 
outgoing and incoming breaths; thus they constantly practise Prana- 
yama."* Whereas others, regulating their food, offer the functions of the 
vital forces in the Prana itself as sacrifice. 

^ This verse means that a truly wise man knows how to differentiate body, mind and senses 
from the Self. Even when activity is going on, on the physical plane, he knows that the 
true Self is not acting. 

® Certain breathing exercises for the control of Prana j vital force. 



THE BLESSED LORD’s SONG 


73 

30-31. All the knowers of sacrifice, burning off their sins (impurities) 
by the performance of sacrifice and drinking the nectar of the remnant 
of sacrifice, go to the eternal Brahman (absolute Truth). O best of the 
Kurus (Arjuna), not even this world is for the non-performer of sac- 
rifice, how much less is the other (world). 

32. All these various sacrifices are given in the Vedas (the revelation of 
Brahman or absolute Truth). Know them all to be born of action; know- 
ing thus thou shalt be freed. 

33. O Parantapa (Arjuna), wisdom-sacrifice is far superior to the sac- 
rifice performed with material objects. The entire realm of action, O 
Partha, ends in wisdom. 

34. Learn this by reverence, by enquiry and by humble service. Those 
men of wisdom, who have realized the Truth, will teach thee supreme 
wisdom, 

35. Knowing which, O Pandava, thou shalt not again thus fall into 
error (delusion) and by which thou shalt see all beings in (thy) Self 
and also in Me. 

36. Even if thou art the most sinful of the sinful, thou shalt cross over 
(the ocean of) sin by the bark of wisdom. 

37. As kindled fire reduces fuel to ashes, O Arjuna, so does the wisdom 
fire reduce all actions (Karma) to ashes. 

38. Nothing indeed in this world purifies like wisdom. He who is 
perfected by Yoga, finds it in time within himself by himself. 

39. The man of (unflinching) faith, who has mastered his senses, 
attains wisdom. Having gained wisdom, immediately he attains to 
supreme peace. 

40. The ignorant, the faithless and one of doubting mind perishes. 
There is neither this world nor the next nor any happiness for the 
doubting self. 

41. O Dhananjaya, one who has renounced actions by Yoga and has 
cut asunder doubt by wisdom and who is self-possessed, actions bind him 
not. 

42. Therefore, cutting asunder with the sword of wisdom this doubt 
of Self, born of ignorance, lying in the heart, take refuge in Yoga and 
arise, O Bharatal 

Here ends the fourth Chapter called 
''Jndna-Yoga, or The Path of Wisdom^ 



74 


INDIAN PIETY 


CHAPTER V 


Arjuna said: 

1. O Krishna, renunciation of action thou praisest and then again 
Yoga (performance of action); tell’ me with certainty which of the two 
is better? 

The Blessed Lord said: 

2. Renunciation (of action) and performance of action both lead to lib- 
eration. But of the two, performance of action is superior to renunciation 
of action. 

3. Know him to be a perpetual renouncer (Sannyasi) who has neither 
longing nor aversion, O mighty-armed; being free from the pairs of 
opposites (cold and heat, pleasure and pain, etc.), he is easily liberated 
from all bondage. 

4. Children (the ignorant) alone say, not wise men, that wisdom and 
Yoga are different. He who is truly established in one obtains the fruits 
of both. 

5. That place which is attained by the Jnams (wise men), is also 
reached by the Karma Yogins (men of action). He who looks upon 
wisdom and the performance of action as one, is a true Seer. 

6. O mighty-armed, renunciation of action is difiScult to attain with- 
out performance of action. The wise man, being devoted to Yoga (ac- 
tion), ere long attains to Brahman (absolute Truth). 

7. One who is devoted to Yoga, of purified mind, self-sub)ugated and 
a master of the senses, realizes his Self as the Self of all beings; though 
acting he is not tainted. 

8-9. The self-possessed knower of Truth should think: “I do nothing 
at all,” though seeing, hearing, touching, smelling, eating, walking, 
sleeping, breathing, speaking, letting go and holding, opening and clos- 
ing the eyes, firmly convinced that senses alone move among sense- 
objects. 

10. He who performs actions, surrendering them to Brahman and 
abandoning all attachment, is not polluted by sin, as a lotus-leaf^ by 
water. 

11. Karma Yogins, for self-purification alone, perform actions with 

^ The lotus-leaf, though it grows in water, is not moistened by it. 



THE BLESSED LORD S SONG 


75 

body, with mind, with intellect, even with the senses, abandoning all 
attachment. 

12. The steady-minded, by giving up all (attachment for) the fruits 
of action, obtains peace, born of steadfastness. The unsteady (fickle), 
being attached to fruits through desire, is ever bound (by action). 

13. The self-sub] uga ted embodied one, by renouncing all actions 
through mental discrimination, rests happily in the city of nine gates 
(body), neither acting (himself) nor causing (others) to act. 

14. The Lord creates neither the agency (sense of “I”), nor actions for 
the world, nor union with the fruit of action. It is nature that leads to 
action. 

15. The omnipresent Lord partakes neither of the good nor of the 
evil deed of any. Wisdom is covered by ignorance, thus mortals are 
deluded. 

16. But those, whose ignorance is destroyed by Self-knowledge, their 
knowledge of the Self, like the sun, illumines the Supreme. 

17. Those whose heart and soul are absorbed in That (Supreme), 
who are steadily devoted to That and regard That as their highest goal, 
they go never to return, their sins (impurities) being washed off by 
wisdom. 

18. The wise look upon a Brahmana endowed with learning and 
humility, a cow, an elephant, a dog, and a Pariah (dog-eater) with equal 
regard.^ 

19. Even here (in this world), existence (earthly life) is conquered 
by them whose mind rests in equality, for Brahman is without imper- 
fection and equal. Therefore they abide in Brahman. 

20. The steady-minded, undeluded knower of Brahman, being welh 
established in Brahman, neither rejoices on receiving the pleasant nor 
grieves on receiving the unpleasant. 

21. He, whose heart is unattached to external contacts (of the senses), 
realizes the happiness that is in the Self; being united with Brahman by 
meditation, he attains to eternal bliss. 

22. The enjoyments which are born through contact (with sense-ob- 
jects) are ever generators of misery; (they are) with beginning and end. 
O son of Kunti, the wise do not seek pleasure in them. 

23. He who can withstand the impulse of lust and anger even here (in 
this life), before he is separated frona the body, is steadfast and truly a 
happy man. 

^Thcy sec the same underlying Self everywhere. 



INDIAN PIETY 


76 

^4. He whose joy is within, whose pleasure is within, and whose light 
is within, that Yogi, being well-established m Brahman, attains to abso- 
lute freedom. 

25. The self-subjugated Rishis (Truth-Seers), whose impurities are 
washed off, whose doubts are destroyed, and who are engaged in doing 
good to all beings, attain supreme liberation. 

26. The Sannyasins, who are freed from lust and anger, with hearts 
well-subdued and Self realized, for them absolute freedom exists here 
and hereafter. 

27-28. Shutting out the external contact with sense-objects, the eyes 
fixed between the eyebrows,^ and equalizing the currents of Prana (in- 
coming breath) and Apana (the outgoing breath) inside the nostrils, the 
meditative man, having mastered the senses, mind and intellect, being 
freed from desire, fear and anger, and regarding freedom as his supreme 
goal, IS liberated forever. 

29. Knowing Me to be the receiver and dispenser of Yajna (sacrifice) 
and austerity, the Supreme Lord of the Universe and the Friend of all 
beings, he attains to peace. 

Here ends the Fifth Chapter called 
'*Sannydsa-Yoga, or The Path of Renunciation'* 

CHAPTER VI 


The Blessed Lord said: 

1. He who performs his duty without depending on the fruits of 
action, he is a Sannyasi (a true renouncer), and a Yogi (a true worker), 
not he who is without sacrificial fire or without action. 

2. O Pandava, that which is called Sannyasa (renunciation) know that 
to be also Yoga (true performance of action), for none can become a Yogi 
without giving up fancies for the fruits of action. 

3. For the meditative who is striving to attain Yoga, action is said to 
be the means; for the same man, when he has attained to Yoga, inaction 
is said to be the means. 

4. He who is unattached to sense-objects and to actions, and has given 
up all fancies for the fruits of action, he is said to have attained Yoga. 

5. Let a man raise himself by his Self, let him never lower himself; for 
he alone is the friend of himself and be alone is the enemy of himself, 

^ A form of cpaceatrauon. 



THE BLESSED LORd’s SONG 77 

6. He who has conquered himself by the Self, he is the friend of him- 
self; but he whose self is unconquered, his self acts as his own enemy like 
an external foe. 

7. The Supreme Self of the self-subjugated and serene-minded, is ever 
undisturbed in heat and cold, pleasure and pain, as well as in honor and 
dishonor. 

8. He who is satisfied with wisdom and direct vision of Truth, who 
has conquered the senses and is ever undisturbed, to whom a lump of 
earth, a stone and gold are the same, that Yogi is said to be a Yukta (a 
saint of established wisdom). 

9. He is esteemed who looks with equal regard upon well-wishers, 
friends, enemies, neutrals, a mediator, the hateful, relatives, upon the 
righteous and the unrighteous. 

10. A Yogi ^ should constantly practise concentration of the heart, re^ 
maining in seclusion alone, subduing his body and mind and being free 
from longing and possession (sense of ownership). 

11. In a cleanly spot havmg established his seat firmly, neither too 
high nor too low, with a cloth, skin and Kusha grass, placed one on the 
other; 

12. Being seated there, making the mind one-pointed and subduing 
the activities of mind and senses, let him practise Yoga for self-purifica- 
tion. 

13. Let him hold his body, head and neck erect and motionless, fixing 
the gaze on the tip of his nose, not looking around.^ 

14. Being serene-hearted and fearless, ever steadfast in the vow of 
Brahmacharya ® and controlling the mind, let him sit steadfastly ab- 
sorbed in thoughts of Me, regarding Me as his supreme goal. 

15. Thus ever keeping himself steadfast, the Yogi of subdued mind 
attains eternal peace and freedom, which abide in Me. 

16. But, O Arjuna, (the practice of) Yoga is not for him who eats too 
much or who does not eat at all, nor for him who sleeps too much or 
keeps awake (in excess). 

17. He who is moderate in eaang and recreation, moderate in his efi 
forts in work, moderate in sleep and wakefulness (his practice of) Yoga 
becomes the destroyer of all misery. 

^One who is stnvmg for union with God through the practice of concentration an'^ 
meditation. 

® A form of concentration. 

® Vow of godly life and continence. 



INDIAN PIETY 


78 

18. When the mind, completely subdued, rests in Self alone, free from 
longing for all objects of desire, then he is said to be a Yukta (steadfast 
in Self-knowledge). 

19. As a lamp placed in a windless spot docs not flicker, the same 
simile is used to define a Yogi of subdued mind, practising union with 
the Self. 

20. In that state, when the mind is completely subdued by the practice 
of Yoga and has attained serenity, in that state, seeing Self by the self, he 
is satisfied in the Self alone. 

21. In that state, transcending the senses, he (the Yogi) feels that in- 
finite bliss which is perceived by the purified understanding; knowing 
that and being established therein, he never falls back from his real state 
(of Self-knowledge) ; 

22. After having attained which, no other gain seems greater; being 
established wherein, he is not overwhelmed even by great sorrow. 

23. Know that (state) of separation from the contact with pain as 
Yoga. This Yoga should be practised with perseverance and undepressed 
heart. 

24. Abandoning without reserve all the desires born of mental fancies, 
and restraining completely by the mind the entire group of the senses 
from all directions, 

25. With understanding held by firmness, and mind established in 
the Self, let him (thus) by degrees attain tranquility; let him not think 
of anything else. 

26. Wheresoever the restless and unsteady mind may wander away, 
let him withdraw it from there and bring it under the control of the Self 
alone, 

27. He whose passions are quieted and mind perfectly tranquil, who 
has become one with Brahman, being freed from all impurities, to such 
a Yogi comes supreme bliss. 

28. Thus constantly holding the mind steadfast, the Yogi, whose sins 
are shaken off, easily attains the infinite bliss, born of contact with 
Brahmam 

29. He whose heart is steadfastly engaged in Yoga, looks everywhere 
with the eyes of equality, seeing the Self in all beings and all beings in 
the Self. 

30. He who sees Me in all and all in Me, from him I vanish not, nor 
does he vanish from Me. 



THE BLESSED LORd’s SONG 


79 

31. He who, being established in unity, worships Me dwelling in all 
beings, that Yogi, howsoever living, abides in Me. 

32. O Arjuna, he who looks upon pleasure and pain everywhere with 
the same regard as when it is applied to himself, that Yogi is highly 
esteemed. 

Arjuna said: 

33. O Destroyer of Madhu (Krishna), this Yoga, which has been de- 
clared by Thee as even-mindedness, I do not see (the possibility) of its 
lasting existence, owing to the restlessness of the mind. 

34. O Krishna, the mind is restless, turbulent, strong and unyielding; 
I consider it as difficult to subdue as the wind. 

The Blessed Lord said: 

35. Doubtless, O mighty-armed, the mind is restless and difficult to 
control; but O son of Kunti, through practice and dispassion (renuncia- 
tion) it can be conquered. 

36. Yoga is difficult to attain by him who is of uncontrolled self: such 
is my conviction; but the self-subjugated can attain it by following the 
right means. 

Arjuna said: 

37. O Krishna, he who, though possessed with faith, yet lacks in con- 
trol and whose mind wanders away from Yoga, what end does he meet, 
failing to reach perfection in Yoga? 

38. O Mighty-armed (Krishna), does he not perish like a rent cloud, 
supportless, fallen from both (here and hereafter), deluded in the path 
of Brahman (Truth) ? 

39. O Krishna, this doubt of mine Thou oughtest to dispel, for there 
is none but Thee who is able to destroy this doubt. 

The Blessed Lord said: 

40. O Partha, there is no destruction for him either here or hereafter, 
for the well-doer (devotee), O Beloved, never comes to an evil end. 

41. One who is fallen from Yoga, after having attained the regions of 
the righteous and dwelling there for unlimited time, reincarnates in the 
house of the pure and prosperous. 

42. Or else he is born in the family of wise Yogis; but such a birth is 
very rare to obtain in this world. 



8o 


INDIAN PIETY 


43. O descendant of Kuru, there (in that incarnation) he gains the 
knowledge acquired m his previous incarnation, and he strives again 
more (fervently) than before for perfection. 

44. He IS irresistibly led by the previous practice (of Yoga). Even the 
enquirer of Yoga goes beyond the letter-Brahman."" 

45. But the Yogi, striving with perseverance, purified from all sin, 
perfected through many births, reaches the supreme goal. 

46. The Yogi is superior to ascetics, and superior to those who have 
attained wisdom through books; he is also superior to performers of 
action (according to the Scriptures). Therefore, O Arjuna! be thou a 
Yogi. 

47. And among all the Yogis, to Me he is the highest, who, with his 
inner self absorbed in Me, worships Me with (unflinching) faith. 

Here ends the Sixth Chapter called 
'^Dhydna-Yoga, or The Path of Meditation'" 

CHAPTER VII 


The Blessed Lord said: 

1. O Partha, practising Yoga, with thy mind fixed on Me and taking 
refuge in Me, do thou hear how without doubt thou shalt know Me 
fully. 

2. I shall declare unto thee without reserve this knowledge (spec- 
ulative) and wisdom (practical), having known which nothing more 
here (in this world) remains to be known. 

3. Among thousands of human beings, scarcely one strives for perfec- 
tion; and among (the thousands of) faithful strivers after perfection, 
scarcely one knows Me in truth. 

4. Earth, water, fire, air, ether, mind, intellect, egotism, thus my 
Prakriti (Nature) is divided eightfold. 

5. This Prakriti is inferior; but different from this, know thou, 
mighty-armed, my higher Prakriti in the form of life-consciousness, by 
which this universe is supported. 

6. Know that all beings are generated from these two (Prakritis). I 
am the origin and also the dissolution of the entire universe. 

7. O Dhananjaya (Arjuna), there is naught else (existing) higher 
than I. Like pearls on a thread, all this (universe) is strung in Me* 

^Thc perform^cc of rites and ntuals given in the Scnpturcs. 



THE BLESSED LORD’s SONG 8l 

8. O son o£ Kunti, I am the sapidity in waters and the radiance in sun 
and moon, I am Om^ in all the Vedas, sound in Akasha (ether), self- 
consciousness in mankind. 

9. I am the sacred fragrance in earth and brilliance in fire; I am the 
life in all beings and austerity in ascetics. 

10. Know Me, O Partha, as the eternal seed of all beings. I am the in- 
tellect of the intelligent and the prowess of the powerful. 

11. O mighty of the Bharata race, of the strong I am the strength, 
devoid of desire and attachment; I am (also) desire in all beings, unop- 
posed to Dharma (spiritual duty). 

12. Whatever conditions there are pertaining to the states of Sattwa 
(quality of goodness). Rajas (passion), Tamas (ignorance, inertia), 
know them all to proceed from Me. I am not in them, but they are in Me. 

13. Being deluded by these states, composed of the three Gunas 
(qualities), all this world does not know Me, who am beyond these and 
immutable. 

14. Verily this divine Maya of mine (elusive mystery), composed of 
Gunas, is difficult to surmount; those who take refuge in Me alone, they 
cross over this Maya. 

15. The deluded, evil-doers, the lowest of men, robbed of understand- 
ing by Maya and following demonic tendencies, do not attain unto Me. 

16. O Prince of the Bharata race, O Arjuna, four kinds of virtuous 
men worship Me: the distressed, the seeker of knowledge, the seeker of 
material prosperity and the wise. 

17. Among them the wise, ever steadfast, devoted to the One (to Me), 
excels; for I am supremely dear to the wise and he is dear to Me. 

18. Noble are all these, but I regard the wise as my very Self; for with 
soul ever steadfast, he is established in Me alone as his supreme goal. 

19. At the end of many births the man of wisdom comes unto Me, 
seeing that all this is (pervaded by) one Self. Such a great-souled one is 
very difficult to find. 

20. Those whose discrimination is stolen away by diverse desires, wor- 
ship other deities by observing various external rites (with the hope of 
gaining pleasure, power, etc.), being impelled by their own nature. 

21. Whatever devotee seeks to worship whatever (Divine) form with 
faith, I make his faith unwavering. 

22. Possessed with that faith, he engages himself in worship of (that 

The Pranava or Word-God. The same as the Logos of Chnstian theology. 



82 


INDIAN PIETY 


deity) ; and from that he gains the desired results, those being granted 
by Me alone. 

23. But the fruit (acquired) by these men of small understanding is 
limited and perishable. The worshippers of the Devas (bright ones) go 
to the Devas; but my devotees come unto Me. 

24. The Ignorant, not knowing my Eternal, Immutable and Supreme 
state, consider Me as the unmanifested coming into manifestation. 

25. I am not manifest to all, being veiled by Yoga-Maya.^ This deluded 
world knows Me not, the Unborn and Immutable. 

26. O Arjuna, I know the past, present and future of all beings, but no 
one knows Me. 

27. O Bharata, terror of thy foes, all beings at birth fall into delusion, 
caused by the pairs of opposites, arising from desire and aversion. 

28. But those men of virtuous deeds, whose sm has come to an end, 
freed from the delusion of the pairs of opposites, worship Me with firm 
resolve. 

29. Those who, having taken refuge in Me, strive to attain freedom 
from old age and death, they know Brahman, the whole of the individual 
Self and the entire realm of Karma (action). 

30. Those who know Me in the physical realm, in the Divine realm 
and in the realm of sacrifice, being steadfast in heart, they know Me 
even at the time of death. 

Here ends the Seventh Chapter called 
''Jndna-Vijndna-Yoga, or The Path of 
Wisdom and Realization'* 


CHAPTER VIII 


Arjuna said: 

1. O Best of Beings (Krishna), what is Brahman, what is Adhyatma 
(embodied soul), and what is Karma.? What is the physical realm 
(Adhibhuta), and what is called the Divine realm (Adhidaiva) ? 

2. O Destroyer of Madhu, how and who dwells in this body as Ad- 
hiyajna (deity of sacrifice); and how art Thou known at the time of 
death by the self-subjugated ones? 

^ Delusion composed o£ the three Gunas. 



THE BLESSED LORD’s SONG 


83 


The Blessed Lord said: 

3. The Imperishable Supreme Being is Brahman, its manifestation as 
the embodied soul is called Adhyatman. The prescribed sacrifice, which 
causes the creation and support of beings, is called Karma. 

4. O best of the embodied (Arjuna), perishable existence is called 
Adhibhuta (the physical) ; the Supreme Stli is the Adhidaivata (Uni- 
versal Spirit). I am the Adhiyajna (the presiding deity of sacrifice) in 
the body. 

5. He who, at the time of death, thinking of Me alone, goes forth, 
leaving the body, he attains unto my Being. There is no doubt in this. 

6. O son of Kunti, whatever state (or being) one dwells upon in the 
end, at the time of leaving the body, that alone he attains, because of hii 
constant thought of that state or being. 

7. Therefore, at all times, think of Me and fight (perform actions) . 
Having offered thy mind and intellect to Me, thou shalt without doubt 
come unto Me. 

8. O son of Pritha, by the steadfast practice of meditation with un- 
wavering mind (not moving elsewhere) and constant thought of the 
Supreme Divine Being, one goes to Him. 

9. He who thinks upon the Omniscient, the Ancient, the Ruler, the 
minutest of the minute, the Sustainer of all, whose form is inconceivable. 
Self-effulgent like the sun, and beyond the darkness (of ignorance) ; 

10. (He who thus meditates on Him) at the time of death, with un- 
flinching mind, possessed with devotion, fully fixing the Prana (life- 
breath) between the eyebrows by the power of Yoga, he attains to the 
Supreme Divine Being. 

11. That which the knowers of Veda (Truth, Wisdom) speak of as 
imperishable, that which the unattached Sannyasins ^ enter into, by de- 
siring which they practise Brahmacharya,® that state I shall declare unto 
thee in brief. 

12. Closing all the gates of the senses, confining the mind in the heart, 
and fixing the Prana in the head (between the eyebrows), thus engaged 
in the practice of concentration (Yoga) ; 

13. Uttering the monosyllable “Om,” (the sound) Brahman, and 
meditating on Me, he who departs, leaving his body, he attains the 
supreme goal. 

^ Self -controlled renouncers. 

* Life of continence and punty. 



INDIAN PIETY 


84 

14. He who IS without any other thought (but Me), who remembers 
Me daily and constantly, O Partha, I am easily attained by that ever- 
devoted Yogi. 

15. The great-souled ones, having reached Me, do not come to re-birth, 
the ever-changing abode of misery, for they have attained the highest 
perfection. 

16. O Arjuna, all worlds, from the abode of Brahma to this world, 
are subject to return; but, O son of Kunti, after having attained Me, 
there is no re-birth. 

17. Those who know that Brahma’s day ends in a thousand Yugas 
(ages) and his night in a thousand Yugas, they are the true knowers of 
the night and day. 

18. At the approach of (Brahma’s) day, all manifestations proceed 
from the Unmanifested, and at the approach of the night, they merge 
into that which is called the Unmanifested."^ 

19. O Partha, the multitude of beings, coming into birth again and 
again, helplessly merge into (the Unmanifested) at the approach of 
night and again remamfest at the approach of day. 

20. But beyond this Unmanifested, there is another Unmanifested, 
which is eternally existent and is not destroyed even when all beings are 
destroyed. 

21. That which has been described as Unmanifested and Imperishable 
is called the Highest Goal, having attained which there is no return (re- 
births) . That is my Supreme Abode. 

22. O son of Pritha, that Supreme Self, in whom all beings abide and 
by whom all this is pervaded, can be attained by whole-hearted and ex- 
clusive devotion to Him. 

23. O Prince of the Bharata race, now I shall declare to thee that time, 
at which in departing (leaving the body) the Yogis return (to re-birth), 
and also that time at which in departing they do not return. 

24. Fire, light, day-time, the bright fortnight (ascending moon), the 
six months of the sun’s northern course, departing at such time, the 
knowers of Brahman go to Brahman. 

25. Smoke, night-time, the dark fortnight (waning moon), the six 
months of the sun’s southern course, the Yogi departing at such time 
and receiving the lunar light, returns. 

^ These two verses signify the evolution and involution of the sum-total of Cosmic energy, 
repr^ented by Brahma’s day and mght. 



THE BLESSED LORd’s SONG 85 

26. These two are considered as eternal paths of the world, the bright 
and the dark (path of wisdom and path of ignorance). By one, (man) 
attains to non-return (freedom) ; by the other, he returns again. 

27. O son of Pntha, by knowing these (two) paths, the Yogis are 
never deluded. Therefore, O Arjuna, in all times be thou steadfastly 
engaged in Yoga. 

28. Whatever fruits of good deeds are promised in the study of the 
Vedas, in sacrifices, in the practice of austerities, in charitable gifts, the 
Yogi, having known these and rising above all, attains to the primeval 
Supreme Abode. 


Here ends the 'Eighth Chapter called 
**A\sharar-Brahma-Yoga, or The Path of the 
Impenshable Brahman* 

CHAPTER IX 


The Blessed Lord said: 

1. (Now) I shall declare to thee, who art without evil thought, this 
great secret, wisdom together -with realization, knowing which thou 
shalt be freed from evil. 

2. This is the king of sciences, king of secrets, the supreme purifier; it 
is realized by direct perception and is endowed with righteousness, 
easily performed and imperishable. 

3. O Parantapa (Arjuna), the men who have no faith in this Dharma 
(science of Self-knowledge), without attaining Me, return to the path 
of death and re-birth. 

4. By My unmamfested Form all this world is pervaded; all beings 
dwell in Me, but I do not dwell in them. 

5. Behold My Divine Yogal Beings do not dwell in Me; (although) 
the Creator and Supporter of all beings, (yet) My Self dwells not in 
them. 

6. As the air, vast and always moving everywhere, exists in Akasha 
(space and ether), even so, know thou, all beings exist in Me. 

7. O son of Kunti, all beings, at the end of a cycle, go. back to my 
Prakrit! (Nature) ; again, at the beginning of a cycle, I send them forth. 

8. Ruling over My Prakrit!, I send forth again and again this vast 
multitude of beings, who are helplessly impelled by Nature, 



86 


INDIAN PIETY 


9. O conqueror of wealth (Arjuna), these acts (of creation and dis- 
solution) do not bind Me, sitting as one unconcerned and unattached to 
these acts. 

10. O son of Kunti, with Me as the presiding Deity, Prakriti (Nature) 
sends forth the moving and the unmoving. For this reason the world 
wheels round and round. 

11. Fools, unaware of My Supreme state, as the great Lord of beings, 
disregard Me dwelling in human form. 

12. They are of vain hopes, of vain deeds, of vain knowledge, and 
senseless, possessed with the deluding nature of Rakshasas (unclean, pas- 
sionate and godless creatures) and Asuras (creatures of darkness and of 
ignorance). 

13. But, O son of Kunti, the great-souled ones, possessing the Divine 
Nature, knowing Me as Immutable and as the Source of beings, worship 
Me with single-minded devotion. 

14. Ever singing My glory and striving with steadfast vows, bowing 
down to Me in devotion, (they) perpetually worship Me. 

15. Others again by performing the wisdom-sacrifice worship Me, the 
All-facing, as One, as separate, or in manifold forms. 

16. I am Kratu,^ I am Yajna,* I am Svadha,® I am medicinal herbs, I 
am the Mantra,* I am the oblation, I am the fire and I am the act of 
sacrifice. 

17. I am the Father of the universe, the Mother, the Sustainer, the 
Grandsire, the One to be known, the Purifier, Om (Sound-Brahman), 
the Rik, Saman and Yajur.® 

18. (I am) the Way, the Supporter, the Lord, the Witness, the Abode, 
the Refuge, the Friend, the Origin, the Dissolution, the Resting-Place, 
the Storehouse and the Eternal Seed. 

19. O Arjuna, I give heat, I send forth rain and withhold it; I am 
Immortality and also Death. I am being and non-being (the manifested 
and the unmanifested). 

20. The knowers of the three Vedas,® having worshipped Me with 
sacrifice, drinking the Soma ^ and thus being purified from sin, pray for 

^ Certain Vedic rite. 

^ Sacrifice. 

® Offering for the benefit of the departed ancestors. 

* The sacred text, by repeating and meditating on which one is purified. 

® Different branches of the Vedas. 

® Mentioned in verse 17. 

’ Nectar, remnant of the sacrifice. 



THE BLESSED LORD’s SONG 87 

the goal of heaven; they, having reached the region of the ruler of the 
Devas, enjoy in heaven the celestial pleasures of the Devas. 

21. Having enjoyed that vast celestial world, they, at the exhaustion 
of the merit (of their good deeds), again enter into the mortal world; 
thus following the religion of the three Vedas, with the craving for ob- 
jects of desire, they attain coming and going (birth and re-birth) . 

22. Those who worship Me and meditate on Me without any other 
thought, to these ever steadfast devotees I secure safety and supply all 
their needs (I carry their burden). 

23. O son of Kunti, even those devotees who worship other gods with 
faich, they too worship Me, but contrary to the law. 

24. For I am alone the Enjoyer and Lord of all sacrifice; but they do 
not know Me in truth, hence they return (fall into re-birth) . 

25. The worshippers of the gods go to the gods; to the ancestors go 
the ancestor-worshippers; the spirit-worshippers go to the spirits; but 
My worshippers come unto Me. 

26. He who, with devotion ojffereth to Me a leaf, a flower, a fruit and 
water, that love-offering I accept, made by the pure-hearted. 

27. Whatever thou doest, whatever thou eatest, whatever thou offerest 
as oblation, whatever thou^givest and the austerities thou performest, O 
son of Kunti, do that as an offering to Me. 

28. Thus thou shalt be freed from the bonds of action that bears good 
and evil fruit; and thy soul, being steadfastly engaged in this devotion of 
renunciation, liberated thou shalt come unto me. 

29. Alike am I to all beings; hated or beloved there is none to Me. 
But those who worship Me with devotion, they are in Me and I am in 
them. 

30. Even if the most wicked worships Me with undivided devotion, he 
should be regarded as good, for he is rightly resolved. 

31. Very soon he becomes a righteous soul and attains to eternal peace 
Know thou, O son of Kunti, that my devotee never perishes. 

32. O Partha, even those who are of inferior birth, — ^women, Vaishyas 
(merchant class) and Sudras (servant class), — even they, by taking 
refuge in Me, attain to the Supreme Goal. 

33. What need is there, then, to speak of the holy Brahmanas and the 
royal Sages! ^ Having come into this transitory and joyless world, do 
thou worship Me. 

^ How much more easily is the goal attained by them. 



83 


INDIAN PIETY 


34. Fill thy mind with Me, be thou My devotee, worship Me and bow 
down to Me; thus, steadfastly uniting thy heart with Me alone and re- 
garding Me as thy Supreme Goal, thou shalt come unto Me. 

Here ends the Ninth Chapter called 
‘'The Path of Royal Science 
and Royal Secret"' 

CHAPTER X 


The Blessed Lord said: 

1. O mighty-armed, again do thou listen to My Supreme Word, which 
I, wishing thy welfare, declare unto thee who art rejoiced (to hear Me) . 

2. All the Devas know not My origin, nor do the great Rishis (Seers) ; 
for I am the Source of all the Devas and the great Rishis. 

3. He who knows Me as birthless and beginningless, the Supreme 
Lord of the universe, he among mortals is undeluded and is freed from 
all sms. 

4. Intelligence, wisdom, non-delusion, forgiveness, truth, control of 
the senses, serenity of the heart, pleasure and pain, birth and death, fear 
and fearlessness. 

5. Non-injury, equanimity, contentment, austerity, benevolence, fame 
and infamy; these different states of beings arise from Me alone. 

6. The seven great Rishis, the elder four ^ as well as the Manus, were 
born of My mind and endowed with My nature, from whom (are gen- 
erated) all these creatures in the world. 

7. He who comprehends in reality these My various manifestations 
and My Yoga power, he becomes well-established in unshakable Yoga. 
There is no doubt in this. 

8. I am the Origin of all, everything evolves from Me. Knowing this, 
the wise worship Me with loving ecstasy. 

9. With their heart fixed on Me, with their life absorbed in Me, mutu- 
ally enlightening (one another), and perpetually singing My glory, they 
are contented and rejoiced, 

10. To these ever steadfast and loving worshippers, I give that Yoga 
of wisdom by which they come unto Me. 

11. Out of pure compassion for them, I, dwelling in their hearts, de- 
stroy the darkness born of ignorance, by the effulgent light of wisdom. 
^ Elder than the seven. 



THE BLESSED LORd’s SONG 


89 


Arjuna said: 

12--13. Thou art the Supreme Brahman, the Supreme Abode and Su- 
preme Purity. All the Rishis (Sages), the divine sage Narada, as 'well as 
Asita, Devala and Vyasa, have declared Thee as the Eternal and Self- 
effulgent Being, the primeval Deity, unborn and all-pervading; and 
Thou Thyself declarest to me the same. 

14. O Keshava (Krishna), I regard all that Thou sayest to me as true. 

0 Blessed Lord, neither the Devas nor the Danavas (demi-gods) know 
Thy manifestations. 

15. O Supreme Being, O Source of beings, O Lord of beings, O God 
of gods, O Ruler of the universe. Thou Thyself alone knowest Thyself by 
Thyself. 

16. (O Lord), Thou oughtest to tell me, without reserve, of Thy 
Divine manifestations, by which Divine attributes Thou abidest, pervad- 
ing all the worlds. 

17. O Yogin (Krishna), how by constantly meditating on Thee shall 

1 know Thee.? O Blessed Lord, in what aspects art Thou to be medi- 
tated upon by me ? 

18. O Janardana (Krishna), tell me again in detail of Thy Yoga power 
and Divine attributes, for I am never satiated in listening to Thy words 
of nectar. 

The Blessed Lord said: 

19. O best of the Kurus, I shall declare to thee My principal Divine 
attributes, for there is no end to the vastness of My manifestations. 

20. O Gudakesha (Arjuna), I am the Self existing in the heart of all 
beings. I am the beginning, the middle and also the end of beings. 

21. I am Vishnu of the Adityas, of the luminaries I am the radiant 
Sun, among the winds I am Marichi, among the constellations I am the 
Moon. 

22. Of the Vedas I am the Sama-Veda, and of the Devas I am Vasava 
(Indra). Of the senses I am the mind and I am the consciousness of all 
living beings. 

23. Of the Rudras I am Sankara; I am the Lord of wealth of the 
Yakshas and Rakshasas; of the Vasus I am the Fire-god; I am Meru 
among the mountains. 

24. O Partha, know Me to be Brihaspati, the high priest; of generals^^ I 
ani Skanda; among waters, I am the ocean, 



INDIAN PIETY 


90 

25. I am Bhrigu among the great Rishis; o£ words, I am the mono- 
syllable “Om.” Of Yajnas (sacrifices), I am Japa; ^ of the immovable, I 
am the Himalaya. 

26. I am Aswattha among all the trees; among the divine Rishis, I am 
Narada. I am Chitraratha of the Gandharvas;' I am the sage Kapila" 
among the perfected ones. 

27. Among horses, know Me as Uchchaisrava, born of nectar; and of 
the lordly elephants as Airavata, and among men as Monarch. 

28. I am the Thunderbolt among weapons; among cows, I am Kama- 
dhuk. I am Kandarpa, the cause of offspring; and of serpents, I am 
Vasuki. 

29. I am Ananta among the snakes; I am Varuna among water-be- 
ings; of ancestors, I am Aryama; I am Yama among rulers. 

30. I am Prahlada among the Daityas; of measures, I am Time; 
among wild beasts, I am the lord of beasts (the lion) ; and among birds, 
I am Vainateya. 

31. Among purifiers, I am the wind; among warriors, I am Rama; 
among fishes, I am Makara (shark) ; and among rivers, I am the Ganges. 

32. O Arjuna, of all creations I am the beginning, the middle and also 
the end; of all the sciences, I am the science of Self-knowledge; among 
the disputants, I am Vada.'* 

33. Of syllables, I am “A,” and Dvandva ® of all compound words. I 
am inexhaustible Time; I am the Dispenser (of fruits of actions), facing 
everywhere. 

34. I am all-seizing Death; I am the origin of all that is to be; of the 
female I am fame, prosperity, speech, memory, intelligence, constancy 
and forgiveness. 

35. I am the Brihat-saman of the Vedic hymns; I am Gayatri® of 
metres. Of months I am Margashirsha and of seasons I am the flowering 
season. 

36. I am gambling among the fraudulent; I am the prowess of the 
powerful. I am Victory, I am Perseverance, I am the Goodness of the 
good. 

37. Of the Vrishnis I am Vasudeva; among the Pandavas I am 

^ Silent repetition of the sacred text. 

® Celestial musicians. 

“ Founder of the Sankya system of philosophy. 

* Truth-seeking arguments. 

® Copulative, 

® A verse of twenty-four syllables. 



THE BLESSED LORd’s SONG 9I 

Dhananjaya; among the saints I am Vyasa and among the sages I am 
Ushana. 

38. I am the Rod of disciplinarians; I am the Polity of the seekers of 
conquest. I am the Silence of secrets; Tam the Wisdom of the wise. 

39. O Arjuna, whatever is the seed of all beings, that also am I. With- 
out Me there is no being existent, whether moving or unmoving. 

40. O Parantapa, there is no end to the manifestations of My Divine 
Power; what I have declared is only a partial statement of the vastness 
of my Divine manifestation. 

41. Whatever being there is, glorious, prosperous or powerful, know 
thou that to have sprung from a portion of My splendor. 

42. O Arjuna, what need is there for thee to know these details I 
alone exist, sustaining this whole universe by a portion of Myself, 

Here ends the Tenth Chapter called 
''V tbhutt-Y oga, or The Path of 
Divine Manifestation" 


CHAPTER XI 


Arjuna said: 

1. The supremely profound word regarding Self-knowledge, spoken 
by Thee out of compassion for me, has dispelled this my delusion. 

2. O Lotus-Eyed (Krishna), I have heard at length from Thee of the 
creation and dissolution of beings, as well as of Thine inexhaustible 
glory. 

3. O Great Lord, as Thou hast declared Thyself, so it is. O Suprem-^ 
Being, I desire to see Thy Godly Form. 

4. O Lord, if Thou thinkest me able (worthy) to see that (Form)^ 
then, O Lord of Yogis, show me Thine Infinite Self, 

The Blessed Lord said: 

5. Behold, O Partha, My various celestial Forms, of different colors 
and shapes, by hundreds and by thousands. 

6. O descendant of Bharata, behold the Adityas, the Rudras, the Vasus, 
the twin Asvins and the Maruts.^ Behold many wonders that were not 
seen before. 

^ Names for celesual beings. 



INDIAN PIETY 


92 

7. O Gudakesha (Arjuna), behold in this body of Mine the entire 
universe together, with all that is moving and unmoving and whatever 
else thou desirest to perceive. 

8. But with these eyes of thine thou canst not see Me; therefore I give 
thee Divine sight. Behold my Supreme Yoga power! 

Sanjaya send: 

9. O King, having spoken thus, the great Lord of Yoga, Hari 
(Krishna), then showed to Partha His Supreme Godly Form. 

10. With many faces and eyes, with many wondrous sights, with many 
celestial ornaments and with many celestial weapons uplifted, 

11. Wearing celestial garlands and garments, anointed with celestial 
fragrant perfumes; the all-wonderful Deity, infinite, facing the universe 
everywhere. 

12. If the effulgence of a thousand suns were to shine at once in the 
sky, that might resemble the splendor of that great Being. 

13. Then the son of Pandu (Arjuna) saw the entire universe resting 
together, with its manifold divisions, in the body of the God of gods. 

14. Then Dhananjaya, overpowered with wonder, and his hair stand- 
ing on end, bending down his head in awe to the Deity, spoke with 
folded hands: 

Arjuna said: 

15. O God! in Thy body I see all the gods, as well as multitudes of all 
kinds of beings; the Lord Brahma, seated on the lotus throne, all the 
Rishis and all the celestial serpents. 

16. O Lord of the universe, O Universal Form, I see Thee with mani- 
fold arms, bellies, mouths and eyes, boundless on every side; neither do 
I see Thy beginning, nor middle nor end. 

17. I see Thee with diadems, maces, discus, shiningly effulgent every- 
where, blazing all around like the burning fire and the sun, dazzling to 
the sight and immeasurable. 

18. Thou art the Imperishable, the Supreme, the One to be known. 
Thou art the Supreme Refuge of this universe; Thou art the ever un- 
changing Guardian of the Eternal Dharma (religion); Thou art, I 
know, the Ancient Being. 

19. I see Thee without beginning, middle or end, with infinite power, 
with numberless arms, the sun and moon as Thine eyes, Thy mouth as 
the blazing fire, heating this universe with Thine own radiance. 



THE BLESSED LORD S SONG 


93 

20. By Thee alone the space between heaven and earth and all the 
quarters is pervaded. O Great Soul, seeing this, Thy wonderful and ter- 
rifying Form, the three worlds are stricken with fear. 

21. Verily, these hosts of Devas are entering into Thee; some in fear, 
praising Thee with folded hands. The host of great Rishis and Siddhas, 
saying “Svasti” (peace, may it be well), are singing Thy glory in beauti- 
ful hymns. 

22. The Rudras, Adityas, Vasus, Sadhyas, the Visvas, the Asvins, the 
Maruts, the Ushmapas, the host of Gandharvas, Yakshas, Asuras, Sid- 
dhas, they are all looking at Thee wonderstruck. 

23. O Mighty-armed, seeing Thine immeasurable form, with many 
mouths and eyes, with many arms, thighs and feet, with many loins, and 
fearful with many large teeth, the worlds and I, as well, are agitated with 
terror. 

24. O Vishnu, seeing Thee touching the sky, shining in many colors, 
with mouths wide open, and with large blazing eyes, my heart is terrified 
and I find neither peace nor tranquillity. 

25. O Lord of gods! seeing Thy mouths, terrible with long teeth, 
blazing like the fires of destruction, I know not the four quarters, nor do 
I find any peace. Have mercy, O Abode of the universe! 

26. Alt these sons of Dhritarashtra, with the multitude of monarchs, 
Bhishma, Drona and Sutaputra (Kama), as well as our own principal 
warriors, 

27. Enter rushingly into Thy mouths, terrible with long teeth and 
fearful to look at. Some are seen hanging between Thy teeth, with their 
heads crushed to powder. 

28. As the many torrents of rivers rush towards the ocean, similarly 
do these heroes amongst men enter into Thy mouths, blazing fiercely on 
all sides. 

29. As the moths rush into the burning fire with headlong speed for 
destruction, in the same manner do these creatures rush into Thy mouths 
with headlong speed, only to perish. 

30. O Vishnu! swallowing all the worlds with Thy blazing flames. 
Thou art licking all around. Thy fierce, radiant rays, filling the whole 
universe, are burning. 

31. Tell me, who art Thou, in this terrible Form.? Salutation to Thee^ 
O Supreme Deity, have mercy! O Primeval One, I desire to know Thee, 
for indeed I know not Thy purpose. 



94 


INDIAN PIETY 


The Blessed Lord said: 

32. I am eternal, world-destroying Time, manifested here for the de- 
struction of these people. Even without Thee, none of these warriors, ar- 
rayed here in the hostile armies, shall live. 

33. Therefore, do thou arise and acquire glory. Conquering the 
enemies, enjoy the unrivalled kingdom. By Me alone have they already 
been slain; be thou merely an instrumental cause, O Savyasachm" 
(Arjuna). 

34. Drona, Bhishma, Jayadratha, Kama, as well as the other brave 
warriors, are already slam by Me. Do thou kill and be not distressed by 
fear. Fight! and thou shalt conquer thine enemies in battle. 

Sanjaya said: 

35. Having heard these words of Keshava (Krishna), (Arjuna) the 
diadem-wearer, with folded hands, trembling, prostrating himself, again 
spoke to Krishna in a choked voice, bowing down, overwhelmed with 
fear. 

Arjuna said: 

36. O Lord of the senses (Krishna), it is right that the world delights 
and rejoices in Thy glory. The Rakshasas (demonic creatures) fly with 
fear in all directions and the host of Siddhas bow down to Thee in 
adoration. 

37. Why should they not bow down to Thee, O Mighty Being, O 
Infinite One, O Lord of the gods, O Abode of the universe, greater 
than Brahma and even the primeval cause of Brahma; for Thou art the 
Imperishable; (Thou art) Existence and Non-existence and all that is 
beyond. 

38. O boundless Form, Thou art the Primeval Deity, the Ancient 
Being, Thou art the Supreme Refuge of this universe; Thou art the 
Kjtiower, the One to be known and the Supreme Abode. By Thee alone 
is this universe pervaded. 

39. Thou art Vayu, Yama, Agni, Varuna, the Moon; Thou art the 
Lord of creatures and the great Grandsire. Salutations to Thee, my 
salutations a thousand times, again and again my salutations to Thee! 

40. Salutations to Thee before, salutations to Thee behind, salutations 
^ Who could shoot arrows even with his left hand. 



THE BLESSED LORd’s SONG 95 

to Thee on all sides ^ O All, infinite in power, and immeasurable in 
valor, Thou pervadest all, therefore Thou art All. 

41. Not knowing this Thy glory and regarding Thee merely as a 
friend, whatever I may have said presumptuously, out of either care- 
lessness or fondness, addressing Thee as “O Krishna,’* “O Yadava,” “O 
Friend”; 

42. O Changeless One, in whatever manner I may have been disre- 
spectful to Thee, in jesting, in walking, in reposing, sitting, or at meals, 
alone, or in the presence of others; O Unfathomable One, I implore 
Thee to forgive all that. 

43. Thou art the Father of the moving and unmoving world, and its 
object of worship; greater than the great, O Incomparable Power, no 
one in the three worlds exists equal to Thee. How can, then, anyone 
excell Thee? 

44. O Adorable Lord! prostrating my body in adoration, I beg Thy 
forgiveness. O God, as a father forgives his son, a friend his dear friend, 
a beloved one his love, even so do Thou forgive me! 

45. O God, joyous am I to have seen (Thy form) which I never saw 
before; yet my heart is agitated with terror, therefore show me that 
Form of Thine. O God of gods! O Abode of the universe, have mercy. 

46. I desire to see Thee as before, with diadem, mace and discus. O 
Universal Form of thousand arms, do Thou manifest Thyself in that 
same Four-armed Form (form of Vishnu). 

The Blessed Lord said: 

47. O Arjuna, mercifully have I jhown thee this Supreme Form by 
My own Yoga power. This effulgent, infinite, primeval, great universal 
Form of Mine, which has not been seen by anyone else before thee. 

48. O great hero of the Kurus, not by the study of the sacred Vedas 
or by sacrifice, not by charity or rituals, not by severe austerities, am I 
visible in such Form in this world of men to any other than thee. 

49. Be not frightened, nor bewildered, having seen this terrific Form 
of Mine, getting rid of thy fear and with gladdened heart, behold thou 
again this My former Form. 

Sanjaya said: 

50. Vasudeva (Krishna), having thus spoken to Arjuna, showed again 
His own Form. The Great-souled One, having assumed again His gentle 
Form, pacified him (Arjuna) who was terrified. 



96 


INDIAN P I E 1 Y 


Arjuna said: 

51. O Janardana, seeing this, Thy gentle human Form, now my 
thoughts are collected and I have recovered myself. 

The Blessed Lord said: 

52. This Form of Mine which thou hast seen is very difficult to per- 
ceive; even gods ever long to behold this Form. 

53. Neither by the Vedas, nor by austerities, nor by charitable gifts, 
nor by sacrifice, can I be seen as thou hast seen Me, 

54. But by single-hearted devotion alone I can be known in this 
manner, O Arjuna, and perceived in reality and also entered into, O 
Parantapa. 

55. O Pandava, he who works for Me, has Me for his highest goal, 
is devoted to Me, is free from attachment and bears enmity towards no 
creature, he enters into Me. 

Here ends the Eleventh Chapter called 
'*Vtshya'Riipa-Darsanam, or The 
Vision of the Universal Form*' 


CHAPTER XII 


Arjuna said: 

1. Those devotees who, ever steadfast, thus worship Thee and those 
who worship the Unmanifested Imperishable, which of them are better 
knowers of Yoga.? 

The Blessed Lord said: 

2. Those who, fixing their minds on Me, worship Me with perpetual 
devotion, endowed with supreme faith, to My mind they are the best 
knowers of Yoga. 

3. But those who contemplate the Imperishable, the Undefinable, 
Unmanifested, Omnipresent, Unthinkable, Unchangeable, Immovable 
and Eternal, 

4. Having subdued all the senses, even-minded everywhere, and en- 
gaged in doing good to all beings, verily they attain unto Me. 

5. Greater is their difficulty whose minds are set on the Unmanifested, 



THE BLESSED LORD'S SONG 


97 

fc. the goal of the Unmanifested is very arduous for the embodied to 
attain. 

6. But those who, surrendering all actions to Me and regarding Me 
as the Supreme Goal, worship Me with single-hearted devotion, 

7. For them whose hearts are thus fixed on Me, O son of Pritha, I 
become ere long the Saviour from the ocean of mortal Samsara (world 
of birth and death). 

8. Fix thy mind on Me alone and rest thine understanding in Me, 
thus thou shalt doubtlessly live in Me hereafter. 

9. O Dhananjaya, if thou art unable to fix thy mind steadfastly on 
Me, then, by faithful practice of devotion, do thou seek to reach Me. 

10. If thou art also unable to practise devotion, then be thou intent 
on working for Me. Even by performing actions for My sake, thou 
shalt attain perfection. 

11. If thou art not able to do even this, then, taking refuge in Me 
alone, and self-controlled, do thou surrender the fruits of all actions. 

12. Knowledge is indeed better than blind practice; meditation excels 
knowledge; surrender of the fruits of action is more esteemed than 
meditation. Peace immediately follows surrender. 

13. He who hates no creature and is friendly and compassionate to 
all, who is free from attachment and egotism, equal-minded in pleasure 
and pain, and forgiving, 

14. Who is ever content and meditative, self-subjugated and possessed 
with firm conviction, with mind and intellect dedicated to Me, he who 
is thus devoted to Me is dear to Me. 

15. He by whom the world is not afSicted and who is not afflicted by 
the world, who is free from elation, envy, fear and anxiety, he is dear 
to Me. 

16. He who is free from all external dependence, pure, efficient, unat- 
tached, undisturbed, and has given up all (selfish) undertakings, he 
who is thus devoted to Me is dear to Me. 

17. He who neither rejoices, nor hates, nor sorrows, nor desires and 
who has renounced good and evil, he who is thus full of devotion is dear 
to Me. 

18. He who is the same to friend and foe and also in honor and dis- 
honor, the same in heat and cold, pleasure and pain, free from all 
attachment, 

19. He who is alike in praise and blame, is silent, content with every- 
thing, homeless, steady-minded, such a devoted soul is dear to Me. 



INDIAN PIETY 


98 

20. Those who follow this immortal Dharma (teaching) as declared 
(by Me) and who are possessed with faith, regarding Me as the Supreme 
Goal, such devotees are exceedingly dear to Me. 

Here ends the Twelfth Chapter called 
'*Bha\tt-Yoga, or The Path of Devotion* 

CHAPTER XIII 

[Arjuna said: O Keshava, Prakriti (Nature) and Purusha (Self), 

Kshetra and the knower of Kshetra, knowledge and that which ought 

to be known, these I desire to learn.] 

The Blessed Lord said: 

1. O son of Kunti, this body is called Kshetra (field), the wise call 
the knower of it as Kshetrajna (knower of the field). 

2. O descendant of Bharata, know Me to be the Kshetrajna (con- 
scious Soul) in all Kshetras (bodies). To My mind, the knowledge of 
Kshetra (body) and Kshetrajna (Soul) is the true knowledge. 

3. What the Kshetra (field) is, of what nature, what are its modifica- 
tions, whence it arises; also who is he (knower, Soul) and what are his 
powers, do thou hear that from me in brief. 

4. This truth has been sung by the Rishis (Seers) in various ways, in 
many different hymns, m Brahma-Sutra-Aphorisms, full of sound 
reasoning and conviction. 

5. The great elements (earth, water, fire, air, ether), egoism, intellect, 
the Unmanifested (Nature), the ten organs (of sense and action) and 
the one (mind), the five sense-objects; 

6. Desire, aversion, pleasure, pain, combination (of these), conscious- 
ness, fortitude, thus the Kshetra (body) has been briefly described with 
its modifications. 

7. Humility, unostentatiousness, non-injuring, forgiveness, simplicity, 
service to the Guru (spiritual teacher), purity,’ steadfastness, self-control; 

8. Renunciation of sense-objects as well as absence of egoism, realiza- 
tion of the evils of birth, death, old age, disease, pain; 

9. Non-attachment, non-idenufication of self with son, wife, home 
and the rest; equal-mindedness in beneficial and non-beneficial hap- 
penings^ 



THE BLESSED LORd’s SONG 


99 

10. One-pointed and unwavering devotion to Me, resort to secluded 
places, distaste for assemblies; 

11. Constant devotion to spiritual knowledge, realization of the es- 
sence of Truth, this is declared to be wisdom; what is opposed to this is 
ignorance. 

12. I shall declare now that which is to be known, by knowing which 
one attains immortality. The Supreme Brahman is beginningless; It is 
said to be neither Sat (existence) nor Asat (non-existence). 

13. With hands and feet everywhere, with eyes, heads and mouths 
everywhere and with ears everywhere in the universe, That alone exists 
enveloping all. 

14. It shines through the functions of all the senses, and yet It is with- 
out senses; unattached, yet It sustains all; devoid of Gunas (qualities), 
yet It is the experiencer of Gunas. 

15. It exists within and without all beings; It is unmoving as well as 
moving, incomprehensible because of Its subtlety; It is far and also near. 

16. Indivisible, yet It exists as if divided in beings; It is to be known 
as the Sustainer of beings; It destroys and also generates. 

17. It is the Light of lights and is said to be beyond darlcness. It is 
knowledge, the One to be known, and the Goal of knowledge, dwelling 
in the hearts of all. 

18. Thus Kshetra (field), knowledge and that which is to be known, 
have been told briefly. My devotee, knowing this, becomes fitted to 
enter into My Being (oneness with Me). 

19. Know thou both Prakriti (Nature) and Purusha (Soul) to be with- 
out beginning. Know thou also that all the modifications and Gunas 
(qualities) are born of Prakriti. 

20. Prakriti is said to be the productive source of cause and effect; 
while the embodied soul is the cause of experiences of pleasure and pain, 

21. For the Purusha (Soul) experiences the Gunas, born of Prakriti; 
attachment to the Gunas is the cause of its birth in good and evil wombs. 

22. The great Soul (that dwells) in this body is called the Witness ot 
Looker-on, the Sanctioner, the Sustainer, the Experiencer, the mighty 
Lord and also the Supreme Self. 

23. He who thus knows Purusha (Soul) and Prakriti (Nature) with 
the Gunas (qualities), howsoever he may be living, is not born again. 

24. Some, by meditation, behold the Self by the self within them- 
selves; others by the path of wisdom; still others by the path of action- 



100 


INDIAN PIETY 


25. Others again, not possessing such knowledge themselves, worship 
as they have heard from others (illumined Souls) ; even they surmount 
death, by following with faith what they have heard. 

26. O naighty of the Bharata race, whatever is born, whether moving 
or unmoving, know it to be (produced) from the union of Kshetra and 
Kshetrajna (Nature and Soul). 

27. The Supreme Lord abides in all beings equally; (He is) undying 
in the dying: He who sees (thus) sees truly. 

28. Seeing the same Lord existing everywhere equally, he does not 
hurt Sell by the self and thus attains the highest goal. 

29. And he who sees that all actions are being performed by Prakrit! 
(Nature) alone and that the Self is not acting, he sees truly. 

30. When he sees the separate existence of all beings established in 
One, and their expansion from that One alone, then he becomes Brah- 
man (one with Brahman) . 

31. O son of Kunti, being without beginning and devoid of Gunas, the 
Supreme Self is immutable; though dwelling in the body. It neither acts 
nor is affected (by the fruits of action). 

32. As the all-pervading ether (Akasha) is not tainted, because of its 
subtlety, similarly this Self, (though) existing everywhere in the body, 
is not tainted. 

33. O descendant of Bharata, as one sun illumines all this world, sim- 
ilarly He who dwells in the body illumines all bodies. 

34. They who thus, by the eyes of wisdom, perceive the distinction 
between body and Soul, and the liberation of beings from Nature 
(Prakrit!), they attain to the Supreme. 

Here ends the Thirteenth Chapter called 
''Yoga of Kshetra and Kshetrajna, or 
The Path of Discrimination 
' between Body and Sour 

CHAPTER XIV 


The Blessed Lord said: 

I. Now I shall again declare unto thee that supreme wisdom, which 
is above all wisdom, by knowing which all the Sages after this life 
attain to the highest perfection. 



THE BLESSED LORD’s SONG lOI 

2 . Abiding by this wisdom, and having attained to My Being, neither 
do they come forth in evolution ^ nor are they affected in involution.® 

3 O descendant of Bharata, the great Prakriti is My womb; in that 
I place the seed, from thence is the birth of all beings. 

4. O son of Kunti, whatever forms are produced in all the wombs, 
the great Praknti is the womb and I am the seed-giving Father. 

5. O mighty-armed, Sattwa, Rajas, Tamas,® these Gunas (qualities), 
born of Prakriti, bind the immutable, embodied soul in the body. 

6. O sinless one, of these (Gunas) Sattwa, being transparent, luminous 
and free from evil, binds (the embodied) by attachment to happiness 
and attachment to knowledge. 

7. O son of Kunti, know thou Rajas to be of the nature of passion, 
giving rise to thirst (for pleasure) and attachment. It binds the embodied 
by attachment to action. 

8. O Bharata (Arjuna), know thou Tamas to be born of ignorance; 
It deludes all embodied beings and binds by false perception, indolence 
and sleep. 

9. O Bharata, Sattwa attaches one to happmes; Rajas to action; while 
Tamas, covering wisdom, attaches one to false perception. 

10. O Bharata (sometimes) Sattwa predominates over Rajas and 
Tamas; (sometimes) Rajas predominates over Sattwa and Tamas; and 
(sometimes) Tamas over Sattwa and Rajas. 

11. When through all the senses of this body the light of understand- 
ing shines forth, then it is to be known that Sattwa is predominant. 

12. O Prince of the Bharata race, greed, (excessive) activity, enter- 
prise, restlessness, longing, these prevail when Rajas is predominant. 

13. O descendant of Kuru, darkness, inertia, false perception, and 
also delusion prevail when Tamas is predominant. 

14. If the embodied meets with death when Sattwa is predominant, 
then he attains the spotless regions of the knowers of the Highest. 

15. Meeting with death in Rajas, one is born among those attached 
to action; and dying in Tamas, one is born in the wombs of senseless 
beings. 

16. The fruit of good deeds is declared to be Sattwika and pure; the 
fruit of Rajas (passionate deeds) is pam; and ignorance is the fruit of 
Tamas. 

^ Creation. 

® Dissolution, 

® Goodness, passion, darkness. 



102 


INDIAN PIETY 


17. Wisdom is bom of Sattwa; greed, of Rajas; false perception, delu- 
sion and ignorance arise from Tamas. 

18. The dwellers of Sattwa go upward; the Rajasic (of passionate 
natures) stay in the middle; and the Tamasic, abiding in the functions of 
the lowest Guna, go downward. 

19. When the Seer beholds no other agent than the Gunas, and knows 
also That which is higher than the Gunas, then he attains to My Being. 

20. The embodied, having gone beyond these three Gunas, out of 
which the body is evolved, is liberated from birth, death, decay and 
pain, and attains to immortality. 

Arjuna said: 

21. O Lord, what are the signs of him who has gone beyond the 
three Gunas ? What are his characteristics and how does he go beyond 
these three Gunas? 

The Blessed hard said: 

22. O Pandava, he who neither hates the presence of illumination 
(Sattwa), activity (Rajas) or delusion (Tamas), nor craves for them 
when they are absent; 

23. He who is seated unconcerned (like a witness) and is not moved 
by the Gunas, who is established and unshaken, knowing that the Gunas 
alone operate; 

24. He who is alike in pleasure and pain; self-possessed; regarding 
alike a lump of earth, a stone and gold; who is the same in pleasant and 
unpleasant, in praise and blame, and steady; 

25. He who is alike in honor and dishonor, the same to friend and 
foe, giving up all (selfish) undertakings, he is said to have crossed 
beyond the Gunas. 

26. And he who, crossing over these Gunas, serves me with unwaver- 
ing devotion, becomes fit to attain oneness with Brahman. 

27. For I am the Abode of Brahman, the Immutable, the Immortal, 
the eternal Dharma and Absolute Bliss. 


Here ends the Fourteenth Chapter called 
Distinction of the Three Guna/' 



THE BLESSED LORd’s SONG 


103 


CHAPTER XV 


The Blessed Lord said: 

1. They speak o£ an eternal Ashwattha (tree), rooted above and 
branching below, whose leaves are the Vedas. He who knows it knows 
the Vedas. 

2. Its branches are spread below and above, nourished by the Gunas; 
the sense-objects are its buds; its roots stretch down below in the world 
of men, creating actions. 

3. Its form IS not visible here, neither its end nor its origin, nor its 
basis. Having cut down this firm-rooted Ashwattha tree by the mighty 
sword of non-attachment, 

4. Then that Goal is to be sought after, attaining which they (the 
wise) do not return again. I take refuge in that Primeval Being from 
which streams forth the Eternal (creative) Energy. 

5. Free from pride and false conceit, the evil of attachment conquered, 
ever devoted to spiritual knowledge, desires completely pacified, liber- 
ated from the pairs of opposites known as pleasure and pain, the unde- 
luded reach that eternal Goal. 

6. That (Goal) the sun does not illumine, nor the moon, nor fire; 
going there, they (the wise) do not return. That is My Supreme Abode. 

7. A portion of Myself has become the living Soul in the world of 
life from time without beginning. It draws the* (five) senses and mind, 
the sixth (sense), which are in Prakriti. 

8. When the Lord (Soul) obtains a body and when He leaves it. 
He takes these (senses and mind) and goes forth as the wind (goes 
forth), carrying away the scents from their seats (the flowers). 

9: The embodied soul, presiding over the ear, eye, the sense of touch, 
of taste and smell, as well as over the mind, experiences sense-objects. 

10. Either going forth from the body, or residing in it, or experiencing, 
or united with the Gunas, the deluded do not see It (the Soul); but 
those who have the eye of wisdom perceive It. 

11. The self-subjugated perceive It, dwelling in themselves; but the 
impure-hearted and the unintelligent, even though striving, behold It 
not. 

12. The light which resides in the sun, in the moon, in fire, and 
which illumines the whole world, know that light to be Mine. 



INDIAN PIETY 


104 

13. Entering the earth with My energy, I support all beings and I 
nourish all the herbs, becoming the watery moon. 

14. Dwelling in the body of living beings as Fire, I, being united with 
Prana (ingoing breath) and Apana (outgoing breath), digest four 
kinds of food."^ 

15. I am seated in the hearts of all, from Me alone comes memory, 
wisdom, and also their loss. I am that which is known in all the Vedas. 
Verily I am the Author of Vedanta and the knower of the Vedas am I. 

16. There are two kinds of beings in the world: the perishable and 
the imperishable; all beings are perishable, but the Purusha (Self) is 
imperishable. 

17. But there is another, the Highest Being, called the Supreme Self, 
who is the Immutable Lord, pervading the three worlds and supporting 
them. 

18. As I am beyond the perishable and am above even the imperish- 
able, therefore in the world and in the Veda I am known as the Supreme 
Being. 

19. O descendant of Bharata, he who, free from delusion, thus knows 
Me as the Supreme Being, he, knowing all, worships Me with his whole 
heart. 

20. Thus, O sinless Bharata, has been declared by Me the most pro- 
found teaching, knowing this one attains enlightenment and the fulfill- 
ment of all duties. 

Here ends the Fifteenth Chapter called 
*'The Path of the Supreme Being** 


CHAPTER XVI 


The Blessed Lord said: 

1. Fearlessness, purity of heart, steadfastness in Yoga of Self-knowl- 
edge, charitable gifts, control of the senses, sacrifice, study of the Sacred 
Scriptures, austerity and simplicity, 

2. Non-injury, truthfulness, absence of anger, renunciation, peace, 
absence of calumny, compassion to beings, non-covetousness, gentleness, 
modesty and absence of fickleness, 

3. Vigor, forgiveness, fortitude, purity, absence of hatred and pride, 
^ Fourfold foods which require masticating, sucking, licking and swallowing or drinking. 



THE BLESSED LORd’s SONG IO5 

these, O descendant of Bharata, belong to one born with the divine 
property. 

4. O Partha, ostentatiousness, arrogance and self-conceit, anger as 
well as cruelty and ignorance, belong to one born with the demonic 
property. 

5. The divine property is for liberation and the demonic for bondage. 
Grieve not, O Pandava, thou art born with the divine property. 

6. O Partha, in this world there are twofold manifestations of beings; 
the divine and the demonic. The divine has been described at len^. 
Hear from Me now of the demonic state. 

7. The demonic people know not how to follow right or how to 
refrain from wrong; there is neither purity, nor good conduct, nor truth 
in them. 

8. They say that “this universe is without truth, without a basis, with- 
out God, born of mutual union caused by lust. What else is there?” 

9. Holding this view, these ruined souls, of small understanding and 
of fierce deeds, rise as the enemies of the world for its destruction. 

10. Filled with insatiable desires, possessed with hypocrisy, pride and 
arrogance, holding evil fancies through delusion, they work with unholy 
resolve; 

11. Beset with immense cares, ending only in death; regarding sensual 
enjoyment as the highest and feeling sure that that is all there is; 

12. Bound by a hundred ties of hope, given over to lust and anger, 
they strive to secure hoards of wealth by unjust means, for sensual 
gratification. 

13. “This has been gained by me today and this desire I shall obtain, 
this is mine and this wealth also shall be mine.” 

14. “That enemy has been slain by me, others also shall I slay. I am 
the lord, I am the enjoyer, I am successful, powerful and happy.” 

15. “I am rich and well-born; who is equal to me? I shall sacrifice, I 
shall give, I shall rejoice”: thus deluded by ignorance, 

16. Bewildered by many fancies, enwrapped in the net of delusion, 
addicted to the gratification of the senses, they fall into a foul hell. 

17. Self-glorifying, haughty, filled with the vanity and intoxication of 
wealth, they perform sacrifices (merely) in name out of hypocrisy, dis- 
regarding the Scriptural injunctions. 

18. Possessed by egoism, power, insolence, lust and anger, these malig- 
nant people hate Me (dwelling) in their own bodies and in those of 
others. 



INDIAN PIETY 


io6 

19. I hurl these malignant and cruel evil doers, most degraded o£ men, 
into the wombs o£ Asuras ^ in the world (of birth and death). 

20. O son of Kunti, entering into the Asunc (unclean) wombs and 
deluded birth after birth, without attaining Me they fall into a still 
lower state. 

21. Lust, anger and greed, these three are the soul-destroying gates 
of hell. Therefore one should forsake these three. 

22. O son of Kunti, he who is free from these three gates of darkness, 
practises what is good for his soul and thus attains the Supreme Goal. 

23. He who, setting aside the injunctions of the Scriptures, follows 
the impulse of desire, attains neither perfection, nor happiness, nor the 
highest goal. 

24. Therefore let the Scriptures be thy authority in ascertaining what 
ought to be done and what ought not to be done. Having learned the 
injunctions declared in the Scriptures, thou shouldst act here (in this 
world). 

Here ends the Sixteenth Chapter called 
^'Distinction between the Divine and 
the Demonic Property** 

CHAPTER XVII 


Arjuna said: 

1. O Kjrishna, those who, disregarding the injunctions of the Scrip- 
tures, perform sacrifice with faith, what is their state Is it Sattwa (good- 
ness), Rajas (passion) or Tamas (darkness) 

The Blessed Lord said: 

2. Threefold is the faith of the embodied, born of their inherent nature; 
Sattwica (good), Rajasica (passionate), Tamasica (ignorant). Do thou 
hear of that. 

3. O descendant of Bharata, the faith of each is according to his in- 
herent nature. The man consists of his faith; he is verily what his faith is. 

4. The men of purity worship the gods; the men of passionate nature 
worship Yakshas and Rakshasas; while the others, men of Tamasica 
(ignorant) nature, worship ghosts (departed spirits) and goblins. 

^ Unclean, cruel and godless creatures. 



THE BLESSED LORd's SONG 


107 

5. The men who practise severe austerities, not enjoined by the Scrip- 
tures, being possessed with hypocrisy and egoism, impelled by lust and 
attachment. 

6 . Torturing, senseless as they are, all the organs of the senses and Me, 
dwelling in the body, know them to be of demonic resolve. 

7. The foods also are of threefold nature which are liked respectively 
by each of these; and so also sacrifice, austerity and charitable gifts. Do 
thou hear the distinction of these. 

8. The foods which increase life-force, energy, strength, health, joy and 
cheerfulness, and which are savory, soothing, substantial and agreeably 
are liked by the Sattwica nature. 

9. The Rajasica nature likes foods which are bitter, sour, saline, oveT 
hot, pungent, dry, burning, and which produce pain, grief and disease. 

10. That which is stale, insipid, putrid, cooked over night, even leav- 
ings or unclean food is liked by the Tamasica nature. 

11. That sacrifice is Sattwica which is performed by men desiring no 
fruit, as it is enjoined by the Scriptural laws, with the mind fixed on the 
sacrifice alone, just for its own sake. 

12. But, O best of the Bharatas, that which is performed with the desire 
for fruits and for ostentation, know that to be Rajasica sacrifice. 

13. The sacrifice which is performed, without regard to Scriptural 
injunctions, in which no food is distributed, and which is without sacred 
texts, charitable gifts and faith, is said to be Tamasica. 

14. Worship of the gods, of the twice-born,^ of Gurus ^ and wise men; 
purity, simplicity, continence, non-injury; these are called the austerity 
of the body. 

15. Speech, which causes no pain (to others) and is true as well as 
pleasant and beneficial; regular study of the Scriptures: these are called 
the austerity of speech. 

16. Cheerfulness of mind, kindliness, silence, self-control, purity of 
heart: these are called austerity of the mind. 

17. When this threefold austerity is practised, by men of steadfast 
devotion, with great faith, without desiring fruits, it is said to be Sattwica. 

18. When this austerity is performed with the object of gaining wel- 
come, honor and worship, or from ostentation, it is said to be Rajasica, 
unstable and fleeting. 

19. The austerity which is performed with deluded understanding, by 

^ Brahmanas. 

®Spintual teachers. 



INDIAN PIETY 


io8 

self-torture or for the purpose of injuring another, that is said to be 
Tamasica. 

20. “To give is right”: with this thought, giving to one who does 
nothing in return, in a fit place, time and to a worthy person, is regarded 
as a Sattwica gift. 

21. That gift which is made with the thought of receiving in return or 
of looking for the fruits, or given reluctantly, is known as a Rajasica gift. 

22. The gift which is made in the wrong place or time, to unworthy 
persons, with disrespect and contempt, that is said to be a Tamasica gift. 

23. “Om, Tat, Sat” (Yes, That, the Real), this is declared to be the 
triple name of Brahman, by which were made of old the Brahmanas, the 
Vedas and sacrifices, 

24. Therefore the followers of the Vedas always begin their acts of 
sacrifice, gift and austerity by uttering “Om” as enjoined in the Scriptures. 

25. By uttering “Tat,” without looking for fruits, the seekers after 
liberation perform various acts of sacrifice, austerity and gift. 

26. O Partha, the word “Sat” is used in the sense of reality and of good- 
ness; and the word “Sat” is also used in the sense of auspicious act. 

27. Steadfastness in sacrifice, austerity and gift is called “Sat,” and 
action performed for the sake of That (Supreme) is also called “Sat.” 

28. O Partha, whatever is sacrificed, or given, or performed, or what- 
ever austerities are practised without faith, that is called “Asat” (Unreal) . 
It is neither good for here nor for hereafter. 

Here ends the Seventeenth Chapter called 
''Division of the Threefold Faith*' 


CHAPTER XVIII 


Arjuna said: 

1. O Lord of the senses, O Mighty-armed, O Destroyer of Keshi, I 
desire to know respectively the truth regarding Sannyasa (renunciation) 
as well as of Tyaga (relinquishment). 

The Blessed Lord said: 

2. The Sages declare that the renunciation of actions with desire (for 
fruits) is Sannyasa, and the learned declare that the relinquishment of 
the fruits of all actions is Tyaga. 



THE BLESSED LORd’s SONG 


109 

3. Some philosophers declare that all actions should be given up as an 
evil; while others say that the work of sacrifice, gift and austerity should 
never be given up. 

4. O best of the Bharatas, O tiger among men, hear from Me the final 
truth regarding relinquishment; for relinquishment has been declared 
to be of three kinds. 

5. The acts of sacrifice, gift and austerity are not to be relinquished, but 
should indeed be performed; for sacrifice, gift and austerity are purifying 
to the discriminative. 

6. But, O Partha, even these acts are to be performed, giving up attach- 
ment and the fruits. This is My best and sure conviction. 

7. Relinquishment of the prescribed actions is not proper. Abandon- 
ment of the same, through delusion, is declared to be Tamasica. 

8. He who relinquishes action out of fear of bodily trouble, thinking 
“it is painful,” thus performing Rajasica relinquishment, does not obtain 
the fruit thereof. 

9. O Arjuna, giving up attachment and fruit, when prescribed action 
is performed because it should be done, such relinquishment is regarded 
as Sattwica. 

10. The relinquisher, imbued with Sattwa and steady understanding, 
with his doubts destroyed, does not hate a disagreeable work, nor is he 
attached to an agreeable one. 

11. It is not possible for the embodied to relinquish actions entirely; 
but he who relinquishes the fruits of action is called a (true) relinquisher. 

12. Good, evil and mixed, threefold is the fruit of action obtained by 
non-relinquishers after death; but never by relinquishers. 

13. O mighty-armed, learn from Me the five causes for the accomplish- 
ment of all action, as it is declared in the Sankhya philosophy. 

14. The body, the agent, the various senses, the different and manifold 
functions and the presiding deity as the fifth. 

15. Whatever action man performs with his body, speech and mind^ 
whether right or the reverse, these five are its causes. 

16. This being the case, he who, through impure understanding, looks 
upon his Self, the One, as the agent, he of perverted mind, sees not (the 
Truth). 

17. He who has no egotistical notion (such as “I am the doer”), whose 
understanding is not affected (by good and evil), even though slaying 
these people, be neither slays nor is bound (by action). 



no INDIAN PIETY 

18. The knowledge, the knowable, and the knower are the threefold 
cause of action; the instrument (senses), the object and the agent, are the 
threefold basis of action. 

19. Knowledge, action and agent are declared in the Sankhya philos- 
ophy to be threefold, according to the distinction of the Gunas. Hear 
them also duly. 

20. Know that knowledge to be Sattwica, by which is seen in all beings 
the One Immutable, inseparate in the separate. 

21. But the knowledge which sees in all beings the distinct entities of 
diverse kinds as different from one another, know that knowledge to be 
Rajasica (passionate). 

22. While that knowledge which is confined to one single effect, as if 
it were the whole, without reason, not founded on truth, and trivial, that 
is declared to be Tamasica. 

23. The action which is ordained, performed by one not desirous of 
fruits, free from attachment and without love or aversion, is declared to 
be Sattwica. 

24. But the action which is performed with longing for objects of desire, 
or with egoism, or with much effort, is declared to be Rajasica. 

25. The action which is undertaken from delusion, without heed to 
ability and consequence, loss and injury (to others) is said to be Tamasica, 

26. Free from attachment, non-egotistic, endued with perseverance and 
enthusiasm, unaffected in success or failure, such an agent is called 
Sattwica. 

27. He who is passionate and desirous of the fruits of action, greedy, 
malignant, impure, easily moved by joy or sorrow, such an agent is called 
Rajasica. 

28. Unsteady, vulgar, arrogant, dishonest, malicious, indolent, de- 
spondent, procrastinating, such an agent is called Tamasica. 

29. O Dhananjaya, hear thou the distinction of understanding and 
fortitude according to the threefold Gunas, as I declare them exhaustively 
and distinctively. 

30. O Partha, know that understanding to be Sattwica which knows 
when to act and when to abstain from action; also right and wrong action, 
fear and fearlessness, bondage and liberation. 

31. O Partha, that by which the understanding is distorted regarding 
right and wrong, proper and improper action, that is called Rajasica 
understanding. 



Ill 


THE BLESSED LORD’s SONG 

32. That understanding which is covered with darkness and regards 
unrighteousness as righteousness, and looks upon all things m a perverted 
light, that, O Partha, is Tamasica understanding. 

33. That firmness, O Partha, by which one can control the activity of 
the mind. Prana and senses, through the unwavering practice of Yoga, 
that firmness is Sattwica. 

34. But that firmness by which one clings to duty, desire and wealth, 
being attached therein and desirous of fruits, that firmness is Rajasica. 

35. O Partha, that by which a stupid man does not give up sleep, fear, 
grief, despondency and vanity, that firmness is Tamasica. 

36. O Prince of the Bharata race, now hear from Me regarding the 
threefold happiness, that happiness which one enjoys by habit and by 
which one comes to the end of pain. 

37. That which is like poison in the beginning and like nectar in the 
end, that happiness is said to be Sattwica (pure), born of the blissful 
knowledge of the Self. 

38. That happiness which arises from the contract of the senses with 
sense-objects and is like nectar in the beginning but like poison in the 
end, is declared to be Rajasica. 

39. That happiness which begins and ends in self-delusion, arising from 
sleep, indolence and false perception, is declared to be Tamasica. 

40. There is no being on earth or in heaven among the gods, who is 
free from these three Gunas, born of Prakriti (Nature). 

41. O Parantapa (Arjuna), the duties of Brahmanas, Kshatriyas, Vais- 
yas and also of Sudras, are distributed according to their Gunas, born of 
their nature. 

42. Control of mind and senses, austerity, purity, forgiveness and also 
simplicity, knowledge, realization and faith in God, these are the duties 
of Brahmanas, born of their nature. 

43. Bravery, energy, firmness, skill and also not flying from the battle, 
generosity, lordliness, are the duties of Kshatriyas, born of their nature. 

44. Agriculture, rearing of cattle and trade are the duties of the Vaisyas, 
born of their nature. Service is the duty of Sudras, born of their nature. 

45. Man attains perfection, being engaged in his own duty. Hear now 
how one engaged in his own duty attains perfection. 

46. Him from Whom is the evolution of all beings, by Whom all this 
is pervaded, by worshipping Him with his own duty man attains per- 
fection. 

47. Better is one’s own duty, although imperfect, than that of another 



INDIAN PIETY 


1 12 

well performed. He who does the duty born of his own nature incurs 
no sin. 

48. O son of Kunti, one should not relinquish the duty to which he is 
born, though it is defective, for all undertabngs are surrounded by evil 
as fire by smoke. 

49. He, whose understanding is unattached everywhere, who is self- 
subjugated, devoid of desires, he, by renunciation, attains the supreme 
perfection, consisting in freedom from action. 

50. O son of Kunti, after reaching such perfection, how he attains to 
Brahman, the highest Goal of Wisdom, do thou hear that from Me 
in brief. 

51. Endued with pure understanding; subduing self by firmness; re- 
linquishing sound and other sense-objects; abandoning longing and 
aversion; 

52. Resorting to a secluded spot; eating little; controlling body, speech 
and mind; ever steadfastly engaged in meditation and concentration; 
endued with dispassion; 

53. Forsaking egoism, power, pride, lust, anger and possession; freed 
from the notion of “mine” and tranquil: one is thus fit to become one 
with Brahman. 

54. Becoming one with Brahman, serene-minded, he neither grieves 
nor desires; alike to all beings, he attains supreme devotion unto Me. 

55. By devotion he knows Me in truth, what and who I am; having 
thus known Me in truth, he forthwith enters into Me. 

56. Even though constantly performing all actions, taking refuge in 
Me, through My grace he attains to the Eternal, Immutable Abode. 

57. Surrendering mentally all actions to Me, regarding Me as the high- 
est goal, resorting to Self-knowledge, do thou ever fix thy heart on Me. 

58. Fixing thy heart on Me, thou shalt, by My grace, overcome all 
obstacles; but if, through egoism, thou wilt not hear Me, thou shalt perish. 

59. If, actuated by egoism, thou thinkest: “I will not fight,” in vain is 
this thy resolve. Thine own nature will impel thee. 

60. O son of Kunti, being bound by thine own Karma, born of thine 
own nature, thou shalt be helplessly led to do that which from delusion 
thou desirest not to do. 

61. O Arjuna, the Lord dwells in the heart of all beings, causing all 
beings to revolve, as if mounted on a wheel. 

62. O Bharata, take refuge in Him with all thy heart; through His 
grace thou shalt attain Supreme Peace and the Eternal Abode. 



THE BLESSED LORd’s SONG 


1 13 

63. Thus wisdom, most profound of all secrets, has been declared unto 
thee by Me; pondering over it fully, do as thou likest. 

64. Hear again My Supreme Word, most profound of all; for thou 
art My dearly beloved, therefore I shall speak for thy good. 

65. Fill thy heart with Me, be thou devoted to Me, do thou worship 
Me and bow down to Me. Thus thou shalt attain unto Me. Truly I 
promise thee, for thou art dear to Me. 

66. Giving up all Dharmas (righteous and unrighteous actions), come 
unto Me alone for refuge. I shall free thee from all sins; grieve not. 

67. This should never be spoken by thee to one who is devoid of aus- 
terity or without devotion, nor to one who does not render service, nor to 
one who speaks ill of Me. 

68. He who, with supreme devotion to Me, will declare this deeply 
profound secret to My devotees, doubtless he shall come unto Me. 

69. There is none among men who does dearer service to Me than he, 
nor shall there be any other on earth dearer to Me than he. 

70. And he who shall study this Sacred Dialogue between us, by him 
I shall be worshipped with sacrifice of wisdom. Such is My conviction. 

71. And even that man who shall hear this, full of faith and without 
malice, he too, being freed from evil, shall attain to the sacred region of 
those of righteous deeds. 

72. O son of Pritha, has this been heard by thee with an attentive mind ? 
O Dhananjaya, has the delusion of thine ignorance been destroyed.? 

Arjuna said: 

73. My delusion is destroyed and I have regained my memory through 
Thy grace, O Changeless One. I stand firm with doubts dispelled; I will 
do Thy Word. 

Sanjaya said: 

74. Thus have I heard this wonderful Dialogue between Vasudeva 
(Krishna) and great-souled Partha, causing my hair to stand on end. 

75. Through the grace of Vyasa have I heard this supreme and most 
profound Yoga, declared directly by Krishna Himself, the Lord of Yoga. 

76. O King, as I remember, over and over, this wonderful and holy 
Dialogue between Keshava and Arjuna, I rejoice again and again. 

77. And as I remember, over and over, that most wonderful Form of 
Hari (the Lord), great is my wonder, O King, and I rejoice again and 
again. 



INDIAN PIEXy 


II4 

78. Wherever is Krishna, the Lord of Yoga, wherever is Partha, the 
bowman, there are prosperity, victory, glory, sound polity. Such is my 
firm conviction. 

Here ends the 'Eighteenth Chapter called 
*'ThePath of Liberation through Renun- 
ciation'* in the Srimad-Bhagavad-Gita, 
the Essence of the Upanishads, the 
Science of Brahman, the Scrip- 
ture of Yoga, the Dialogue 
between Sri Krishna 
and Ar^una 

Peace! Peace! Peace be unto all. 



The Yoga Aphorisms of 


Patanjali 


INTRODUCTION 

The most curious, most distinctive and at the same time probably the 
most widely known aspect of Hindu mysticism is the philosophy and 
practice of yoga. If the sum of Brahmanism may be defined as teaching 
the mystic union of man’s true self with the world-soul (brahman, God, 
etc.), yoga represents the most direct and well-formulated method for 
achieving that goal, and as such constitutes a form of religious experi- 
ence and a religious technique. The reason for the popularity of yoga 
philosophy and its particular appeal to the modern world is twofold; it 
arises from the combination of a system of physical regimen that has 
something to do with physical and mental health with a mystic search 
for inner stability and the psychic depths of man’s soul, which seems to 
underly a broad and deep undercurrent of modern life. “To me,” says 
C. G. Jung, “the crux of the spiritual problem of today is to be found in 
the fascination which psychic hfe exerts upon the modern man.” It is 
needless to point out that it is modern psychoanalysis itself, which has 
awakened our interest in, and opened our way to the exploration of, the 
subconscious, and by changing our whole conception of the human 
“mind,” has exhibited to us the tyrannous demoniac power of our primor- 
dial instincts, impulses and “urges” which govern our lives in that vast 
psychological underworld. Lastly, it must be pointed out that popularity 
of yoga is due to its claims of supernatural powers and to the general 
interest in the hocus-pocus of all forms of occultism. 


115 


INDIAN PIETY 


Il6 

Yoga (meaning “yoke”) represents a form of personal discipline, with 
the object of “yoking” the body to the soul, and the individuai soul to 
the universal soul. From a practical aspect, its aim is to help culti- 
vate emotional stability. It begins with a unique and unparalleled explor- 
ation in the region of the involuntary muscles and bringing them under 
the control of the mind, and proceeds to the liberation of the mind from 
its sense impressions and the deeper residuents and impedimenta that not 
only clog but form the very fabric of our subconscious life which Freud 
has summed up as Eros, or the life-principle, comprising the sex instinct 
and the ego-instinct. Finally, it aims at the destruction of the “mind” 
for the liberation of the “soul” (which is variously interpreted), at which 
point It has a religious character and goes beyond the fields and aims of 
psychoanalytic research. 

Before the coming of Freud and Jung, we might have easily laughed 
off yoga philosophy and put it on the same level with the much debated 
Hindu rope trick and levitation. Yoga does claim powers of levitation. 
In the first week of July, 1942 , 1 read in the New Yor\ Herald Tribune 
a factual account by a responsible Hindu professor of a yogi buried under 
publicly tested conditions and coming to life again after six months in 
the presence of thousands of Hindu peasants. It is these sensational reports 
that appeal to the popular fancy. After the modern experiments of freez- 
ing of patients under ice, these feats seem less incredible and are not any 
more inexplicable than the hibernation of animals. Still, they are bound to 
detract our attention from the more normal and earnest problems of 
achieving emotional stability and psychological health. 

Luckily, modern psychology offers the key to our understanding of 
yoga. Breathing exercises and the mastery of ordinarily involuntary 
muscles by practice require no explanation; the deeper problems of the 
psyche do. Jung has written a full and highly illuminating introduction 
to a Chinese yoga book (Jihe Secret of the Golden Flower, Harcourt, 
Brace, 1938, not to be confused with the Buddhistic Lotus Gospel; see 
especially the sections, “Difficulties encountered by a European in trying 
to understand the East,” and “Modern psychology offers a possibility of 
tmderstanding”). Kovoor T. Behanan, in his ''Yoga: a Saenttfic Evalua- 
tion'* (Macmillan, 1937) has also drawn interesting parallels in the chap- 
ter, “Yoga and Psychoanalysis.” The curious thing about this book is 
that in Behanan, a Hindu by birth, his scientific training in Toronto and 
Yale seems to have got the upper hand of his native Hindu blood and 
his early training at Calcutta; I rather think his approach to yoga is more 



THE YOGA APHORISMS OF PATANJALI II7 

“university trained” and therefore more trivial than that of a continental 
mind like Jung. 

Readers of the yoga section of the Bhagavad-Gita must have been im- 
pressed by its concern with what lies in the subconscious life. The over- 
whelming emphasis on the subconscious and the dependence of the yoga 
disciple upon the guru, or spiritual teacher, are points of similarity with 
the practice of psychoanalysis. ''Yoga can only be safely learned by direct 
contact with a teacher,” warns Swami Vivekananda. When we come to 
the analysis of the mind itself, only modern psychology makes the doc- 
trine intelligible to us. The process of destruction of the mind {chitta) 
in order to save the soul {purusha) can be understood only in psycho- 
logical terms. The mind with its incrusted layers of sense-attachments, 
which yoga teaches as the hindrances to our seeing of the ultimate soul, 
is no more than the sepulchre of primordial life-urges that psychology 
has shown us; the doctrine of the rebirth is no more than that survival in 
individual of a superpersonal or collective race inheritance phylogene- 
tically acquired; the impersonal, collective nature of these primordial 
forces is apparently the same as that of the “collective unconscious” of 
Jung. Finally, the urge for release and liberation is what Freud has 
negatively called the “death-instinct,” the opposite of the “life-instmct,” 
very inadequately illustrated, I am afraid, in sadism and masochism. 
Freud says very correctly, in the subconscious, “instinctive impulses . . . 
exist independently side by side, and are exempt from mental contradic- 
tion. . . , There is in this system no negation, no dubiety, no varying 
degrees of certainty. ... Its processes are timeless, they are not ordered 
temporarily, are not altered by the passage of time, in fact bear no rela- 
tion to time at all.” It is these forces, as well as the body that must be 
brought under control by yoga practice. 

It is also important to point out that the theories of psychoanalysis, 
like the theories of yoga, are speculative, and only a portion of these sub- 
jective interpretations are amenable to proof by experimentation. We 
have not even the vocabulary for these inner phenomena, and when 
psychoanalysis begins to tackle the depths of the psyche, it is compelled 
to invent terms that are in their nature quasi-scientific make-shifts— 
terms like life-urge, the Id, animus, anima, libido (a form of discharge 
of energy which unfortunately cannot be measured in volts), and that 
elusive spiritual entity called Eros, Hindu psychology, Buddhist and 
non-Buddhist, abounds in such terms. It is said that there is a greater 
psychological vocabulary in Sanskrit and Pali than in the “modern Ian- 



INDIAN PIETY 


Il8 

guages” combined. (For example, see the “Table of the Eighty-Nine 
Consciousnesses” in Henry Clarke Warren’s Buddhism in Translations.) 

Jung says, “We have not yet clearly grasped the fact that Western 
Theosophy is an amateurish imitation of the East, We are just taking up 
astrology again, and that to the Oriental is his daily bread. Our studies 
of sexual life, originating in Vienna and England, are matched or sur- 
passed by Hindu teachings on the subject. Oriental texts ten centuries 
old introduce us to philosophical relativism,^ while the idea of indeter- 
mination, newly broached in the West, furnishes the very basis of Chinese 
science.® Richard Wilhelm has even shown me that certain complicated 
processes discovered by analytical psychology are recognizably described 
in ancient Chinese texts.® Psycholanalysis itself and the lines of thought 
to which it gives rise — surely a distinctly Western development — are only 
a beginner’s attempt compared to what is an immemorial art in the 
East.”* 

I can do no ‘better than quote Swami Vivekananda on the nature and 
character of the yoga discipline. “For thousands of years such phenomena 
have been studied, investigated, and generalised, the whole ground of 
the religious faculties of man has been analysed, and the practical result 
is the science of Rdja~Yoga. ... It declares that each man is only a con- 
duit for the infinite ocean of knowledge and power that lies beyond man- 
kind. It teaches that desires and wants are in man, that the power of 
supply is also in man; and that wherever and whenever a desire, a want, 
a prayer has been fulfilled, it was out of this infinite magazine that the 
supply came, and not from any supernatural being. The idea of super- 
natural beings may arouse to a certain extent the power of action in man, 
but it also brings spiritual decay. It brings dependence; it brings fear; 
it brings superstition. It degenerates into a horrible belief in the natural 
weakness of man. There is no supernatural, says the Yogi, but there are 
in nature gross manifestations and subtle manifestations. The subtle are 
the causes, the gross the effects. The gross can be easily perceived by the 
senses; not so the subtle. The practice of Rdja-Yoga will lead to the acqui- 
sition of the more subtle perceptions.” 

The Yoga Aphorisms of Patanjali is the classic and textbook of yoga, 
acknowledged by all schools to be the highest authority on the subject. 

^ Relativism is really as old as Taoism in Chma. 

® Jung IS referring to Yt-ching, one of the Chinese 'Five Classics, 

®Tor instance, the case of narcissism m Miss Feng HsiaO'Ch’ing. 

* C. G. Jung: Modern Man in Search of a Soul, p. 249. 



THE YOGA APHORISMS OF PATANJALI II9 

It was written, according to Professor J. H. Woods, in the fourth or fifth 
centuries of our era. In this complete text, without the commentaries, a 
brief glimpse may be had of the contents of yoga teachings. I have used 
the free and easily understandable translation of Swami Vivekananda, 
and those who are interested should read his commentaries (Rdja-Yoga, 
Ramakrishna-Vivekananda Center, New York, 1939). The classic Com- 
ment, and Explanations of the Comment, together with Professor James 
Haughton Woods’ scholarly tianslation of the text Yoga-System of 
Patan'jali, Harvard Oriental Series, VoL 17, may be consulted only by 
the academically-minded. Professor Woods seems to err on the scholarly 
side: his “sources-of-valid-ideas” are translated by Vivekananda as “right 
knowledge,” his “predicate-relation” (vtl{cilpa) is simply the latter’s “ver- 
bal delusion,” and “Memory is not-adding-surreptitiously to a once 
experienced object” simply means, according to the Hindu yoga teacher, 
“Memory is when perceived objects do not slip away.” In the same way, 
I believe “non-attachment” is better English than “passionlessness” and 
“egoism” better than “feelmg-of-personality.” “Undifferentiated-con- 
sciousness” may be etymologically more exact than “ignorance” for the 
rendering of avidya, but the important thing is ‘what a Hindu word 
means to a Hindu, for etymological meaning is always altered by a cur- 
rent meaning which usage has acquired. A brief, but clear exposition of 
the yoga mysticism may be found in Hindu Mysticism, by S. N. Dasgupta 
(Open Court), a lucid introduction to Hindu thought, in general, as 
against the same author’s heavy and scholarly History of Indian Phil- 
osophy, I have supplied the sectional headings for the convenience of 
the reader. 



The Yoga Aphorisms of 
Patanjah 

Translated by Swami Vive\ananda 


CHAPTER I: CONCENTRATION: ITS SPIRITUAL USES 

Goal of Concentration 

1. Now concentration is explained. 

2. Yoga IS restraining the mind-stuff (Chitta) from taking various 
forms (Vnttis). 

3. At that time (the time of concentration) the seer (Purusha) rests in 
his own (unmodified) state. 

Forms of Mind-Stuff 

4. At other times (other than that of concentration) the seer is iden- 
tified with the modifications. 

5. There are five classes of modifications, (some) painful and (others) 
not painful. 

6. (These are) right knowledge, indiscrimination, verbal delusion, 
sleep and memory. 

7. Direct perception, inference, and competent evidence, are proofs. 

8. Indiscrimination is false knowledge not established in real nature. 

9. Verbal delusion follows from words having no (corresponding) 
reality. 

10. Sleep is a Vritti which embraces the feeling of voidness. 


I2I 


THE YOGA APHORISMS OF PATANJALI 

11. Memory is when {Vrittis of) perceived subjects do not slip away 
(and through impressions come back to consciousness). 

Methods of Control 

12. Their control is by practice and non-attachment. 

13. Continuous struggle to keep them (the Vntus) perfectly restrained 
IS practice. 

14. It becomes firmly grounded by long constant efforts with great 
love (for the end to be attained) . 

15. That effect which comes to those who have given up their thirst 
after objects either seen or heard, and which wills to control the objects, 
is non-attachment. 

16. That is extreme non-attachment which gives up even the qualities, 
and comes from the knowledge of (the real nature of) the Purushaf 


Kinds of Concentration 

17. The concentration called right knowledge is that which is followed 
by reasoning, discrimination, bliss, unqualified egoism. 

18. There is another Samadhi^ which is attained by the constant prac- 
tice of cessation of all mental activity, in which the China retains only 
the unmanifested impressions. 

Dif event Ways of Attaining Samddhi 

19. (This Samddhi when not followed by extreme non-attachment) 
becomes the cause of the re-manifestation of the gods and of those that 
become merged in nature. 

^ Note by Vtve\ananda. “We have first to understand what the Purusha, the Self, is, and 
what are the qualities. According to Itoga philosophy the whole of nature consists of three 
qualiues or forces; one is called Tamos, another Rajas and the third Sattva, These three 
qualities manifest themselves in the physical world as darkness or inactivity; attraction or 
repulsion; and equilibrium of the two. Everythmg that is in nature, all manifestations, are 
combinations and recombinations of these three forces. Nature has been divided into various 
categones by the Sdnkhy^t Self of man is beyond all these, beyond nature. It is effulgent, 
pure and perfect. Whatever of intelligence we see in nature is but the reflection of this Self 
upon nature.” 

® Superconscious state^ traiW?T 



122 


INDIAN PIETY 


20. To Others (this Samadht) comes through faith, energy, memory, 
concentration, and discrimination of the real. 

21. Success is speedy for the extremely energetic. 

22. The success of Yogis differs according as the means they adopt are 
mild, medium or intense. 

23. Or by devotion to Isvara. 

The"Om'^ 

24. Isvara (the Supreme Ruler) is a special Purusha, untouched by 
misery, actions, their results and desires. 

25. In Him becomes infinite that all-knowmgness which in others 
is (only) a germ. 

26. He is the Teacher of even the ancient teachers, being not limited 
by time. 

27. His manifesting word is Om, 

28. The repetition of this {Om) and meditating on its meaning (is 
the way) . 

29. From that is gained (the knowledge of) introspection, and the 
destruction of obstacles. 

Forms of Meditation and Samddhi 

30. Disease, mental laziness, doubt, lack of enthusiasm, lethargy, cling- 
ing to sense-enjoyments, false perception, non-attaining concentration, 
and falling away from the state when obtained, are the obstructing dis- 
tractions. 

31. Grief, mental distress, tremor of the body, irregular breathing, 
accompany non-retention of concentration. 

32. To remedy this, the practice of one subject (should be made). 

33. Friendship, mercy, gladness and indifference, being thought of in 
regard to subjects, happy, unhappy, good and evil respectively, pacify 
the China, 

34. By throwing out and restraining the Breath. 

35. Those forms of concentration that bring extraordinary sense per- 
ceptions cause perseverance of the mind. 

36. Or (by the meditation on) the Effulgent Light, which is beyond 

all sorrow, 



THE YOGA APHORISMS OF PATANJALI I23 

37. Or (by meditation on) the heart that has given up all attachment 
to sense-objects. 

38. Or by meditating on the knowledge that comes in sleep. 

39. Or by the meditation on anything that appeals to one as good. 

40. The Yogi's mind thus meditating, becomes unobstructed from the 
atomic to the infinite. 

41. The Yogi whose Vrittis have thus become powerless (controlled) 
obtains in the receiver, (the instrument of) receiving, and the received 
(the Self, the mind, and external objects), concentratedness and same- 
ness, like the crystal (before different coloured objects). 

42. Sound, meaning, and resulting knowledge, being mixed up, is 
(called) Samddhi with-question. 

43. Samddhi called ‘without-question’ (comes) when the memory is 
purified, or devoid of qualities, expressing only the meaning (of the 
meditated object). 

44. By this process (the concentrations) with discrimination and with- 
out discrimination, whose objects are finer, are (also) explained. 

45. The finer objects end with the Pradhdna. 

46. These concentrations are with seed. 

47. The concentration ''without discrimination” being purified, the 
China becomes firmly fixed. 

48. The knowledge in that is called "filled with Truth.” 

49. The knowledge that is gained from testimony and inference is 
about common objects. That from the Samddhi just mentioned is of a 
much higher order, being able to penetrate where inference and testi- 
mony cannot go. 

50. The resulting impression from this Samddhi obstructs all other 
impressions. 

51. By the restraint of even this (impression, which obstructs all other 
impressions), all being restrained, comes the “seedless” Samddhi, 


CHAPTER II: CONCENTRATION: ITS PRACTICE 
The Pain-Bearing Obstructions 

1. Mortification, study, and surrendering fruits of work to God are 
called Kriyd-yoga. 

2. (It is for) the practice of Samddhi and minimising the pain-bearing 
obstructions. 



INDIAN PIETY 


124 

3. The pain-bearing obstructions are — ignorance, egoism, attachment^ 
aversion, and clinging to life. 

4. Ignorance is the productive field of all these that follow, whether 
they are dormant, attenuated, overpowered, or expanded. 

5. Ignorance is taking the non-eternal, the impure, the painful, and the 
non-Self, as the eternal, the pure, the happy, and the Atman or Self (re- 
spectively) . 

6. Egoism is the identification of the seer with the instrument of seeing. 

7. Attachment is that which dwells on pleasure. 

8 . Aversion is that which dwells on pain. 

9. Flowing through its own nature, and established even in the learned, 
is the clinging to life. 

10. The fine Sains\dras^ are to be conquered by resolving them into 
their causal state. 

11. By meditation, their (gross) modifications are to be rejected. 

12. The ‘receptacle of works’ ® has its root in these pain-bearing obstruc- 
tions, and their experience is in this visible life, or in the unseen life. 

13. The root being there, the fruition comes (in the form of) species, 
hfe, and experience of pleasure and pain. 

14. They bear fruit as pleasure or pain, caused by virtue or vice. 

15. To the discriminating, all is, as it were, painful on account of every- 
thing bringing pain, either as consequence, or as anticipation of loss of 
happiness or as fresh craving arising from impressions of happiness, and 
also as counter-action of qualities. 

16. The misery which is not yet come is to be avoided. 

The Independence of the Soul as Seer 

17. The cause of that which is to be avoided is the junction of the 
seer and the seen. 

18. The experienced is composed of elements and organs, is of the 
nature of illumination, action, and inertia, and is for the purpose of ex- 
perience and release (of the experiencer). 

19. The states of the qualities are the defined, the undefined, the indi- 
cated only, and the signless. 

^ Samikoras are the subtle impressions that manifest themselves into gross forms later 
on — original note. 

■^By the ‘receptacle o£ works’ is meant the sum total of original note. 



THE YOGA APHORISMS OF PATANJALI I25 

20. The seer is intelligence only, and though pure, sees through the 
colouring o£ the intellect. 

21. The nature of the experienced is for him. 

22. Though destroyed for him whose goal has been gained, yet it is 
not destroyed, being common to others. 

23. Junction IS the cause of the realisation of the nature of both the 
powers, the experienced and its Lord. 

24. Ignorance is its cause. 

25. There being absence of that (ignorance) there is absence of junc- 
tion, which is the thmg-to-be-avoided; that is the independence of the 
seer. 

26. The means of destruction of ignorance is unbroken practice of dis- 
crimination. 

27. His knowledge is of the sevenfold highest ground. 

The Eight Stages 

28. By the practice of the different parts of Yoga the Impurities being 
destroyed, knowledge becomes effulgent up to discrimination. 

29. Yama, Niyama, Asma, Prdndydma, Pratydhdra, Dhdrand, Dhydna^ 
and Samddhi, arc the eight limbs of Yoga. 

1. FIVE vows (Yama) 

30. Non-killing, truthfulness, non-stealing, continence, and non-receiv- 
ing, are called Yama. 

31. These, unbroken by time, place, purpose and caste-rules, are (uni- 
versal) great vows. 

2. FIVE OBSERVANCES (Niyama) 

32. Internal and external purification, contentment, mortification, 
study, and worship of God, are the Ntyamas. 

33. To obstruct thoughts which are inimical to Yoga, contrary thoughts 
should be brought. 

34. The obstructions to Yoga are killing, falsehood, etc., whether com- 
mitted, caused, or approved; either through avarice, or anger or igno- 
rance; whether slight, middling, or great; and result in infinite ignorance 
and misery. This is (the method of) thinking the contrary. 

35. Non-killmg being established, in his presence all enmities cease 
(in others). 



126 


INDIAN PIETY 


36. By the establishment of truthfulness the Yogi gets the pov/er ol 
attaining for himself and others the fruits of work without the works. 

37. By the establishment of non-stealing all wealth comes to the Yogi. 

38. By the establishment of continence energy is gained. 

39. When he is fixed in non-receiving he gets the memory of past life. 

40. Internal and external cleanliness being established, arises disgust 
for one’s own body, and non-mtercourse with others. 

41. There also arises purification of the Sattva^ cheerfulness of the 
mind, concentration, conquest of the organs, and fitness for the realisa- 
tion of the Self. 

42. From contentment comes superlative happiness. 

43. The result of mortification is bringing powers to the organs and 
the body, by destroying the impurity. 

44. By repetition of the Mantra ^ comes the realisation of the intended 
deity. 

45. By sacrificing all to Isu/ara ® comes Samadhu 

3. posture: (Asana) 

46. Posture is that which is firm and pleasant. 

47. By lessening the natural tendency (for restlessness) and meditating 
on the unlimited (posture becomes firm and pleasant) . 

48. Seat being conquered, the dualities do not obstruct. 

4. RESPIRATION (Prdndydma) 

49. Controlling the motion of the exhalation and the inhalation follows 
after this. 

50. Its modifications are either external or internal, or motionless, regu- 
lated by place, time, and number, either long or short. 

51. The fourth is restraining the Prdna by reflecting on external or in- 
ternal objects. 

52. From that, the covering to the light of the Chitta is attenuated. 

53. The mind becomes fit for Dhdrand. 

5. WITHDRAWING OF THE ORGANS (Pratydhdra) 

54. The drawing in of the organs is by their giving up their own objects 
and taking the form of the mind-stuiff, as it were. 

55. Thence arises supreme control of the organs. 

^ The good element; sec note to I, 16. 

® Prayer formula. 

® The Lord (also Isvara), 



THE YOGA APHORISMS OF PATANJALI 


CHAPTER III: POWERS 

We have now come to the chapter in which the Yoga powers are de- 
scribed. 

6. CONCENTRATION ON ONE OBJECT (Dhdrand) 

1. Dhdrand is holding the mind on to some particular object. 

7. MEDITATION {Dhydna) 

2. An unbroken flow of knowledge in that object is Dhydna, 

8. SUPERCONSCIOUSNESS {Samddhi) 

3. When that, giving up all forms, reflects only the meaning, it is 
Samddhi, 


Description of the Last Three Stages 

4. (These) three (when practised) in regard to one object is Samyama, 

5. By the conquest of that comes light of knowledge. 

6. That should be employed in stages. 

7. These three are more internal than those that precede. 

8. But even they are external to the seedless { Samddhi ). 

9. By the suppression of the disturbed impressions of the mind, and 
by the rise of impressions of control, the mind, which persists in that 
moment of control, is said to attain the controlling modifications. 

10. Its flow becomes steady by habit. 

11. Taking in all sorts of objects, and concentrating upon one object, 
these two powers being destroyed and manifested respectively, the Chitta 
gets the modification called Samddhi, 

12. The one-pointedness of the Chitta is when the impression that is 
past and that which is present are similar. 

13. By this is explained the threefold transformation of form, time 
and state, in fine or gross matter, and in the organs. 

14. That which is acted upon by transformations, either past, present or 
yet to be manifested, is the qualified. 

15. The succession of changes is the cause of manifold evolution. 



128 


INDIAN PIETY 


The T ransformation of Mental Powers 

1 6. By making Sarny ama on the three sorts of changes comes the 
knowledge of past and future. 

17. By making Samyama on word, meaning, and knowledge, which 
are ordinarily confused, comes the knowledge of all animal sounds. 

18. By perceiving the impressions, (comes) the knowledge of past life. 

19. By making Samyama on the signs in another’s body, knowledge of 
his mind comes. 

20. But not its contents, that not being the object of the Samyama, 

21. By making Samyama on the form of the body, the perceptibility of 
the form being obstructed, and the power of manifestation in the eye 
being separated, the Yogi's body becomes unseen. 

22. By this the disappearance or concealment of words which are being 
spoken and such other things, are also explained. 

23. Karma is of two kinds, soon to be fructified, and late to be fructi- 
fied. By making Samyama on these, or by the signs called Arishta, 
portents, the Yogis know the exact time of separation from their bodies. 

24. By making Samyama on friendship, mercy, etc. (I:33)> the Yogi 
excels in respective qualities. 

25. By making Samyama on the strength of the elephant, and others, 
their respective strength comes to the Yogi, 

26. By making Samyama on the effulgent light (1:36) comes the 
knowledge of the fine, the obstructed and the remote, 

27. By making Samyama on the sun, (comes) the knowledge of the 
world. 

28. On the moon, (comes) the knowledge of the cluster of stars. 

29. On the pole-star, (comes) the knowledge of the motion of the stars. 

30. On the navel circle, (comes) the knowledge of the constitution of 
the body. 

31. On the hollow of the throat, (comes) cessation of hunger. 

32. On the nerve called Kurma (comes) fixity of the body. 

33. On the light emanating from the top of the head, sight of the 
Siddhasf 

34. Or by the power of Prdtibha * all knowledge. 

35. In the heart, knowledge of minds. 

^Tfeie Siddhas are beings who are a little above ghosts. When the Yogi concentrates hw 
mind on the top of his head he w41 see these Stddhas — original note. 

* Spontaneous enlightenment from purity. 



THE YOGA APHORISMS OF PATANJALI I29 

36. Enjoyment comes by the non-discrimination of the Soul and 
Sattva which are totally diJEFcrent. The latter whose actions are for an- 
other is separate from the self-centred one. Samyama on the self-centred 
one gives knowledge of the Purusha. 

37. From that arises the knowledge belonging to Prdtibha and (super- 
natural) hearing, touching, seeing, tasting, and smelling. 

38. These are obstacles to Samadhi: but they are powers in the worldly 
state. 

Supernatural Powers 

39. When the cause of bondage of the Ckitta has become loosened, 
the Yogi, by his knowledge of its channels of activity (the nerves), enters 
another’s body. 

40. By conquering the current called Uddna^ the Yogi does not sink in 
water, or in swamps, he can walk on thorns, etc., and can die at will. 

41. By the conquest of the current Samdna he is surrounded by a blaze 
of light. 

42. By making Samyama on the relation between the ear and the 
Akasa^ comes divine hearing. 

43. By making Samyama on the relation between the A\dsa and the 
body and becoming light as cotton wool, etc., through meditation on 
them, the Yogi goes through the skies. 

44. By making Samyama on the ‘real modifications’ of the mind, out- 
side of the body, called great disembodiedness, comes disappearance of 
the covering to light. 

45. By making Samyama on the gross and fine forms of the elements, 
their essential traits, the inherence of the Gunas ® in them and on their 
contributing to the experience of the soul, comes mastery of the elements. 

46. From that comes minuteness, and the rest of the powers, ‘glori- 
fication of the body,’ and indestructibleness of the bodily qualities. 

47. The ‘glorification of the body’ is beauty, complexion, strength, 
adamantine hardness. 

48. By making Samyama on the objectivity and power of illumination 
of the organs, on egoism, the inherence of the Gunas in them and on 
their contributing to the experience of the soul, comes the conquest of 
the organs. 

^ The name of the nerve current that governs the lungs, and all the upper parts of the bo 4 y* 

® The ether. 

®Thc thre? ejepaentgt 



INDIAN PIETY 


130 

49. From that comes to the body the power of rapid movement like 
the mind, power of the organs independently of the body, and conquest 
of nature. 

50. By making Samyama on the discrimination between Sattva and 
the Purusha come omnipotence and omniscience. 

Isolation or Complete Freedom 

51. By giving up even these powers comes the destruction of the very 
seed of evil, which leads to Kaivalya^ 

52. The Yogi should not feel allured or flattered by the overtures of 
celestial beings, for fear of evil again. 

53. By making Samyama on a particle of time and its precession and 
succession comes discrimination. 

54. Those things which cannot be differentiated by species, sign and 
place, even they will be discriminated by the above Samyama, 

55. The saving knowledge is that knowledge of discrimination which 
simultaneously covers all objects, m all their variations. 

56. By the similarity of purity between the Sattva and the Purusha 
comes Kaivalya, 


CHAPTER IV: INDEPENDENCE 
Desires and Objects of the Mind 

1. The Siddhis (powers) are attained by birth, chemical means, power 
of words, mortification or concentration. 

2. The change into another species is by the filling in of nature. 

3. Good and bad deeds are not the direct causes in the transforma- 
tions of nature, but they act as breakers of obstacles to the evolutions of 
nature: as a farmer breaks the obstacles to the course of water, which 
then runs down by its own nature. 

4. From egoism alone proceed the created minds. 

5. Though the activities of the different created minds are various, the 
one original mind is the controller of them all. 

6. Among the various Chinas that which is attained by Samddhi is 
desireless. 

^Complete isolaaon or independence, 



THE YOGA APHORISMS OF PATANJALI I3I 

7. Works are neither black nor white for the Yogis; for others they 
are three-fold — black, white, and mixed. 

8 . From these threefold works are manifested m each state only those 
desires (which are) fitting to that state alone. (The others are held in 
abeyance for the time being.) 

9. There is consecutiveness in desires, even though separated by species, 
space and time, there being identification of memory and impressions. 

10. Thirst for happiness being eternal desires are without beginning. 

11. Being held together by cause, effect, support, and objects, in the 
absence of these is its absence. 

12. The past and future exist in their own nature, qualities having dif- 
ferent ways. 

13. They are manifested or fine, being of the nature of the Gtmasl 

14. The unity in things is from the unity in changes. 

15. Since perception and desire vary with regard to the same object, 
mind and object are of different nature. 

16. Things are known or unknown to the mind, being dependent on 
the colouring which they give to the mind. 

17. The states of the mind are always known because the lord of the 
mind, the Purusha, is unchangeable. 

18. The mind is not self-luminous, being an object. 

19. From Its being unable to cognise both at the same time. 

20. Another cognising mind being assumed there will be no end to 
such assumptions and confusion of memory will be the result. 

21. The essence of knowledge (the Purusha) being unchangeable, 
when the mind takes its form, it becomes conscious. 

22. Coloured by the seer and the seen the mind is able to understand 
everything. 

23. The mind though variegated by innumerable desires acts for an- 
other (the Purusha)^ because it acts in combination. 

Complete Isolation 

24. For the discriminating the perception of the mind as Atman 
ceases. 

^ The Gunas arc the three substances, Sattva, Rajas, and Tamos, whose gross state is the 
sensible universe. Past and future arise from the dilferent modes of manifestatiQn of 
tiiese Qmos — original not?, 



INDIAN PIETY 


132 

25. Then bent on discriminating, the mind attains the previous state 
of Kaivalya (isolation) . 

26. The thoughts that arise as obstructions to that are from impres- 
sions. 

27. Their destruction is in the same manner as of ignorance, egoism, 
etc., as said before (II:io). 

28. Even when arriving at the right discriminating knowledge of the 
essences, he who gives up the fruits, unto him comes as the result of 
perfect discrimination, the Samadhi called the cloud of virtue. 

29. From that comes cessation of pains and works. 

30. Then knowledge, bereft of covering and impurities, becoming 
infinite, the knowable becomes small. 

31. Then are finished the successive transformations of the qualities, 
they having attained the end. 

32. The changes that exist in relation to moments, and which are per- 
ceived at the other end (at the end of a series) are succession. 

33. The resolution in the inverse order of the qualities, bereft of any 
motive of action for the Purusha, is Kaivalya, or it is the establishment 
of the power of knowledge in its own nature. 



INDIAN 

IMAGINATION 




The Ramayana 


INTRODUCTION 

My love and true respect for India were born when I first read the 
Indian epics, the Ramayana and the Mahabharata in the present transla- 
tion in my college days. In these two masterpieces we are brought closer 
to the atmosphere, ideals and customs of ancient Hindu life than by a 
hundred volumes of commentary on the Upanishads, and through them 
Hindu ideals, as well as Hindu men and women, become real to us. 
And the fact that Hindu imagination produced such masterpieces of 
literature, closely rivalling Homer in antiquity and in beauty and power 
of portraying human passions, is a definite pledge of the worth and rich- 
ness of the Hindu civilization. 

It is more than a figure of speech to say that the Mahabharata must 
be compared, if compared at all, with Homer’s Iliad, and the Ramayana, 
with the Odyssey, To take the Mahabharata, the subject of the epic was 
the same, dealing with a long-drawn-out war between the Kurus and 
the Panchalas, as Homer dealt with the Trojan War. The treatment 
was the same: the delineation of the character of the warriors, the 
“tiger-waisted” Bhima, the “helmet-wearing” Arjuna (the Achilles of 
the epic), the royal and dignified Yudhishthir (suggesting Agamem- 
non), the vengeance of Arjuna for the death of his boy, the fierce con- 
tests and rounds of combats between heroes of the opposing camps, the 
Homeric speeches before the combats, the Councils of War, and the 
presence of gods and celestial spirits all reproduce the epic impression. 
The Hindu epic abounds more in episodic developments and discourses 
(such as the long discourse between Yudhishthir and Bhishma on the 
art of government) and has a wider canvas, with descriptions of forest 
life and later interpolations of discussions on questions of spiritual 

135 



136 INDIAN IMAGINATION 

truth (such as the Bhagavad-Gita, which is merely a reported conversa- 
tion between the god Krishna and Arjuna before the battle, now 
accepted as a separate book). In magnitude, the Mahabharata comprises 
100,000 couplets, which is the result of successive accretions in the easy 
slol^a verse-form, while the Ramayana comprises 24,000 couplets, and 
is more the unified work of one writer. In so far as the Ramayana deals 
with the story of wanderings of Rama and his wife Sita, it may be said 
to resemble the Odyssey, Beyond that, the resemblance ceases, for while 
the story of Sita is that of the test of a woman’s loyalty, like that of 
Penelope, the main theme is not that of Ulyssean adventures, but of 
domestic human passions, comprising such tragic material as is found 
in King Lear, Macbeth and Othello, It is also extremely important to 
note the tragic ending of Sita, where a happy ending would have 
been easy. 

In modern terms, the Mahabharata may be said to be realistic, and 
the Ramayana, idealistic, in their respective handling of human charac- 
ters. Sita in Ramayana is all that a woman could or should be, and is 
impressive by her sweetness and devotion. Draupadi in Mahabharata, 
on the other hand, may be any of the high-spirited modern women who 
live off one of New York’s avenues, with her anger and her brooding 
for revenge — and for that reason more human. There is greater “re- 
alistic” truth in the full-blooded characters of the Mahabharata, higher 
passion and nobler resolve, fiercer jealousy and more biting scorn, and 
greater grandeur in many of its scenes. Yet it is undeniable there is 
greater spiritual beauty, greater softness and tenderness of emotion in 
Ramayana, The subject of Mahbharata is men and war; the subject, of 
Ramayana is women and the home. If I judge human nature correctly, 
by the preference of fathers for daughters and mothers for sons, then it 
is Inevitable that Mahabharata is the women’s epic, while Ramayana is 
the men’s. As it is impossible to include both epics, and highly desirable 
to reproduce one of them complete, therefore, as a man, I have chosen 
the Ramayana, 

Truly, as the translator says, “The two together comprise the whole 
of the epic literature of the ancient Hindus; and the two together present 
us with the most graphic and lifelike picture that exists of the civiliza- 
tion and culture, the political and social life, the religion and thought of 
ancient India.” And “to know the Indian epics is to understand the 
Indian people better.” For it must be remembered, also, that these are 
not dead Uteraturc of long ago; they have influenced and molded 



THE RAMAYANA 


137 

Indian life for thousands of years and are still a living factor today in 
the innermost depths of Indian consciousness. 

Eventually, I am convinced India must win her freedom, not by 
fighting, because they will not resort to violence, and not by politics, 
for the English are superb at politics, but by Englishmen falling in 
love with Sita. Whether English stockholders will ever read Indian 
literature and poetry is doubtful, and it is not implied that the prospect 
is bright, for the great age of English appreciation of Hindu thought 
has declined. But anyone can see that one who loves Phidias v^ould not 
like to bomb the Acropolis, and no one in his senses could believe that 
a people that could produce such epics ought to be ruled by others. It 
does not make sense. 

Having said so much, I believe I am not in a position to improve 
upon an introduction to the Ramayana, which Romesh Dutt has so 
ably written in his “Epilogue.” The following abstracts from the 
“Epilogue” will make the contents of this epic and its significance to 
the Indian people clear. The translation, reproduced here complete, is 
a condensation of the original. I have therefore kept the separate intro- 
ductions to the different Books, which supply the outline of the epic 
story. 

“It would appear that the original work ended with the sixth Book, 
which describes the return of the hero to his country and to his loving 
subjects. The seventh Book is called Uttar a or Supplemental, and in it 
we are told something of the dimensions of the poem, apparently after 
the fatal process of additions, and interpolations had gone on for cen- 
turies. We are informed that the poem consists of six Books and a 
Supplemental Book; and that it comprises 500 cantos and 24,000 couplets. 
And we are also told in this Supplemental Book that the descendants 
of Rama and his brothers founded some of the great towns and states 
which, we know from other sources, flourished in the fifth and fourth 
centuries before Christ. It is probable therefore that the Epic, commenced 
after 1000 b.c., had assumed something like its present shape a few 
centuries before the Christian Era. 

“The Mahabharata grew out of the legends and traditions of a great 
historical war between the Kurus and the Panchalas; the Ramayana 
grew out of the recollections of the golden age of the Kosalas and the 
ViSehas. The^xharacters c£. are characters of flesh and 
blo^ , with the virtues and crimes of great actors in the historic world; 
the characters of the Ramayana are more often the ideals of manly 



INDIAN IMAGINATION 


138 

devotion to.truth, and o£ womanly faithfulness and love in domestic 
life. ... As an heroic poem the Mahabharata stands on a higher level; 
as a poem delineating the softer emotions of our everyday life the 
Ramayana sends its roots deeper into the hearts and minds of the millions 
in India. . . . Without rivalling the heroic grandeur of the Mahabharata, 
the Ramayana is immeasurably superior in its delineation of those 
softer and perhaps deeper emotions which enter into our everyday life 
and hold the world together. And these descriptions, essentially of 
Hindu life, are yet so true to nature that they apply to all races and 
nations. 

“There is something indescribably touching and tender in the descrip- 
tion of the love of Rama for his subjects and the loyalty of his people 
towards Rama, — that loyalty which has ever been a part of the Hindu 
character in every age — 

‘As a father to his children to his loving men he came. 

Blessed our homes and maids and matrons till our infants lisped his name, 

For our humble woes and troubles Rama hath the ready tear, 

To our humble tales of suffering Rama lends his willing ear!* 

“Deeper than this was Rama’s duty towards his father and his father’s 
fondness for Rama; and the portion of the Epic which narrates the dark 
scheme by which the prince was at last torn from the heart and home 
of his dying father is one of the most powerful and pathetic passages 
in Indian literature. The stepmother of Rama, won by the virtues and 
the kindliness of the prince, regards his proposed coronation with pride 
and pleasure, but her old nurse creeps into her confidence hke a creeping 
serpent, and envenoms her heart with the poison of her own vricked- 
ness. She arouses the slumbering jealousy of a woman and awakens the 
alarms of a mother, till — 

‘Like k slow but deadly poison worked the ancient nurse’s tears, 

And a wife’s undying impulse mingled with a mother’s fears!’ 

“The nurse’s dark insinuations work on the mind of the queen till she 
becomes a desperate woman, resolved to maintain her own influence on 
her husband, and to see her own son on the throne. The determination 
of the young queen tells with terrible effect on the weakness and vacil- 
lation of the feeble old monarch, and Rama is banished at last. And 
the scene closes with a pathetic story in which the monarch recounts his 
misdeed of past years, accepts his present suffering as the fruit of that 



THE RAMAYANA 


139 

misdeed, and dies in agony for his banished son. The inner workings 
of the human heart and of human motives, the dark intrigue of a 
scheming dependant, the awakening jealousy and alarm of a wife and 
a mother, the determination of a woman and an imperious queen, and 
the feebleness and despair and death of a fond old father and husband, 
have never been more vividly described. . . , 

“It is truth and power in the depicting of such scenes, and not in the 
delineation of warriors and warlike incidents, that the Ramayana excels. 
It is in the delineation of domestic incidents, domestic affections, and 
domestic jealousies, which are appreciated by the prince and the peasant 
alike, that the Ramayana bases its appeal to the hearts of the millions 
in India. And beyond all this, the righteous devotion of Rama, and the 
faithfulness and womanly love of Sita, run like two threads of gold 
through the whole fabric of the Epic, and ennoble and sanctify the 
work in the eyes of Hindus. 

“Sita holds a place in the hearts of women in India which no other 
creation of a poet’s imagination holds among any other nation on earth. 
There is not a Hindu woman whose earliest and tenderest recollections 
do not cling round the story of Sita’s sufferings and Sita’s faithfulness, 
told in the nursery, taught in the family circle, remembered and cher- 
ished through life. Sita’s adventures in a desolate forest and in a hostile 
prison only represent in an exaggerated form the humbler trials of a 
woman’s life; and Sita’s endurance and faithfulness teach her devotion 
to duty in all trials and troubles of life. Tor,* said Sita: 

Tor my mother often taught me and my father often spake, 

That her home the wedded woman doth beside her husband make, 

As the shadow to the substance, to her lord is faithful wife, 

And she parts not from her consort till she parts with fleeting life! 
Therefore bid me seek the jungle and in pathless forests roam, 

Where the wild deer freely ranges and the tiger makes his home, 
Happier than in father’s mansions in the woods will Sita rove, 

Waste no thought on home or kindred, nestling in her husband’s love I’ 

“The ideal of life was joy and beauty and gladness in ancient Greece; 
the ideal of life was piety and endurance and devotion in ancient India. 
The tale of Helen was a tale of womanly beauty and loveliness which 
charmed the western world. The tale of Sita was a tale of womanly faith 
and self-abnegation which charmed and fascinated the Hmdu world. 
Repeated trials bring out in brighter relief the unfaltering truth of Sita’s 



INDIAN IMAGINATION 


140 

character; she goes to a second banishment in the woods with the same 
trust and devotion to her lord as before, and she returns once more, 
and sinks into the bosom of her Mother Earth, true in death as she had 
been true in life. The creative imagination of the Hindus has conceived 
no loftier and holier character than Sita; the literature of the world 
has not produced a higher ideal of womanly love, womanly truth, and 
womanly devotion ” 



The Epic of Rama 

Translated by Romesh Dutt 


BOOK I SITA-SWAYAMVARA 
{The Bridal of Stta) 

The Epic relates to the ancient traditions of two powerful races, the 
Kosalas and the Videhas, who lived in Northern India between the 
twelfth and tenth centuries before Christ. The names Kosala and Videha 
in the singular number indicate the kingdoms — Oudh and North Behar 
— and in the plural number they mean the ancient races which inhabited 
those two countries. 

According to the Epic, Dasa-ratha king of the Kosalas had four sons, 
the eldest of whom was Rama the hero of the poem. And Janak king of 
the Videhas had a daughter named Sita, who was miraculously born of 
a field furrow, and who is the heroine of the Epic. 

Janak ordained a severe test for the hand of his daughter, and many 
a prince and warrior came and went away disappointed. Rama suc- 
ceeded, and won Sita. The story of Rama’s winning his bride, and of 
the marriage of his three brothers with the sister and cousins of Sita, 
forms the subject of this Book. 

The portions translated in this Book form Section vi., Sections Ixvii, 
to Ixix., Section Ixxiii., and Section Ixxvii. of Book i. of the original text * 

1 Ayodhya, the Righteous City 

Rich in royal worth and valour, rich in holy Vedic lore, 

Dasa-ratha ruled his empire in the happy days of yore, 


141 


142 INDIAN IMAGINATION 

Loved of men in fair Ayodhya, sprung of ancient Solar Race, 

Royal risht in his duty, saintly rishi ^ in his grace, 

Great as Indra in his prowess, bounteous as Kuver^ kind, 

Dauntless deeds subdued his foemen, lofty faith subdued his mind! 
Like the ancient monarch Manu, father of the human race, 

Dasa-ratha ruled his people with a father’s loving grace, 

Truth and Justice swayed each action and each baser motive quelled 
People’s Love and Monarch’s Duty every thought and deed impelled, 
And his town like Indra’s city, — tower and dome and turret brave — 
Rose in proud and peerless beauty on Sarayu’s limpid wave! 

Peaceful lived the righteous people, rich in wealth in merit high, 

Envy dwelt not in their bosoms and their accents shaped no lie. 

Fathers with their happy households owned their cattle, corn, and gold, 
Galling penury and famine in Ayodhya had no hold, 

Neighbours lived in mutual kindness helpful with their ample wealth, 
None who begged the wasted refuse, none who lived by fraud and 
stealth! 

And they wore the gem and earring, wreath and fragrant sandal paste. 
And their arms were decked with bracelets, and their necks with 
nish\as ^ graced. 

Cheat and braggart and deceiver lived not in the ancient town, 

Proud despiser of the lowly wore not insults in their frown, 

Poorer fed not on the richer, hireling friend upon the great. 

None with low and lying accents did upon the proud man wait! 

Men to plighted vows were faithful, faithful was each loving wife, 
Impure thought and wandering fancy stained not holy wedded life, 
Robed in gold and graceful garments, fair in form and fair in face. 
Winsome were Ayodhya’s daughters, rich in wit and woman’s grace! 
Twice-born men were free from passion, lust of gold and impure greed, 
Faithful to their Rites and Scriptures, truthful in their word and deed, 
Altar blazed in every mansion, from each home was bounty given, 
Stooped no man to fulsome falsehood, questioned none the will of 
Heaven. 

Kshatras bowed to holy Brahmans, Vaisyas to the Kshatras bowed 
Toiling Sudras lived by labour, of their honest duty proud. 

To the Gods and to the Fathers, to each guest in virtue trained, 

Rites were done with true devotion as by holy writ ordained, 

' Saint or anchorite. 

® Corns often used for ornament. 



THE EPIC OF RAMA 


143 


Pure each caste in due observance, stainless was each ancient rite, 

And the nation thrived and prospered by its old and matchless might. 
And each man in truth abiding lived a long and peaceful life, 

With his sons and with his grandsons, with his loved and honoured wife. 
Thus was ruled the ancient city by her monarch true and bold, 

As the earth was ruled by Manu in the misty days of old, 

Troops who never turned in battle, fierce as fire and strong and brave. 
Guarded well her lofty ramparts as the hons guard the cave. 

Steeds like Indra’s in their swiftness came from far Kamboja’s land, 
From Vanaya and Vahlika and from Sindhu’s rock-bound strand, 
Elephants of mighty stature from the Vindhya mountains came, 

Or from deep and darksome forests round Himalay’s peaks of fame, 
Matchless in their mighty prowess, peerless in their wondrous speed, 
Nobler than the noble tuskers sprung from high celestial breed. 

Thus Ayodhya, 'Virgin city,’* — ^faithful to her haughty name, — 

Ruled by righteous Dasa-ratha won a world-embracing fame, 
Strong-barred gates and lofty arches, tower and dome and turret high 
Decked the vast and peopled city fair as mansions of the sky. 

Queens of proud and peerless beauty born of houses rich in fame, 
Loved of royal Dasa-ratha to his happy mansion came, 

Queen Kausalya blessed with virtue true and righteous Rama bore 
Queen Kaikeyi young and beauteous bore him Bharat rich in lore, 
Queen Simitra bore the bright twins, Lakshman and Satrughna bold, 
Four brave princes served their father in the happy days of old! 

II Mithila, and the Breaking of the Bou/ 

Janak monarch of Videha spake his message near and far, — 

He shall win my peerless Sita who shall bend my bow of war, — 

Suitors came from farthest regions, warlike princes known to fame. 
Vainly strove to wield the weapon, left Videha in their shame, 
Viswa-mitra royal risht, Rama true and Lakshman bold. 

Came to fair Mithila’s. city from Ayodhya famed of old. 

Spake in pride the royal rishi: “Monarch of Videha’s throne, 

Grant, the wondrous bow of Rudra be to princely Rama shown.” 

Janak spake his royal mandate to his lords and warriors bold: 

“Bring ye forth the bow of Rudra decked in garlands and in gold,” 
And his peers and proud retainers waiting on the monarch’s call, 
Brought the great and goodly weapon from the city’s inner hall. 



INDIAN IMAGINATION 


144 

Stalwart men of ample stature pulled the mighty iron car 
In which rested all-inviolate Janak’s dreaded bow of war. 

And where midst assembled monarchs sat Videha’s godlike king, 
With a mighty toil and effort did the eight- wheeled chariot bring. 
“This the weapon of Videha,” proudly thus the peers begun, 

“Be it shewn to royal Rama, Dasa-ratha’s righteous son:” 

“This the bow,” then spake the monarch to the rtsha famed of old, 

To the true and righteous Rama and to Lakshman young and bold, 
“This the weapon of my fathers prized by kings from age to age, 
Mighty chiefs and sturdy warriors could not bend it, noble sage! 

Gods before the bow of Rudra have m righteous terror quailed, 
Ra\shas^ fierce and stout Asuras^ have in futile effort failed, 

Mortal man will struggle vainly Rudra’s wondrous bow to bend, 

Vainly strive to string the weapon and the shining dart to send. 

Holy saint and royal rishi, here is Janak’s ancient bow, 

Shew it to Ayodhya’s princes, speak to them my kingly vow!” 
Viswa-mitra humbly listened to the words the monarch said, 

To the brave and righteous Rama, Janak’s mighty bow displayed, 
Rama lifted high the cover of the pond’rous iron car, 

Gazed with conscious pride and prowess on the mighty bow of war. 
“Let me,” humbly spake the hero, “on this bow my fingers place. 

Let me lift and bend the weapon, help me with your loving grace.” 

“Be It so,” the rishi answered, “be it so,” the monarch said, 

Rama lifted high the weapon on his stalwart arms displayed, 
Wond’ring gazed the kings assembled as the son of Raghu’s race 
Proudly raised the bow of Rudra with a warrior’s stately grace, . 
Proudly strung the bow of Rudra which the kings had tried in vain. 
Drew the cord with force resistless till the weapon snapped in twain! 
Like the thunder’s pealing accent rose the loud terrific clang, 

And the firm earth shook and trembled and the hills in echoes rang, 
And the chiefs and gathered monarchs fell and fainted in their fear, 
And the men of many nations shook the dreadful sound to hear! 

Pale and white the startled monarchs slowly from their terror woke. 
And with royal grace and greetings Janak to the rishi spoke: 

“Now my ancient eyes have witnessed wond’rous deed by Rama done, 
Deed surpassing thought or fancy wrought by Dasa-ratha’s son, 

And the proud and peerless princess, Sita glory of my house. 

Sheds on me an added lustre as she weds a godlike spouse, 

Nifht demons. ® pvil spiritst 



THE EPIC OF RAMA 


145 


True shall be my plighted promise, Ska dearer than my life, 

Won by worth and wondkous valour shall be Rama’s faithful wifdl 
Grant us leave, O royal rishi, grant us blessings kind and fair, 

Envoys mounted on my chariot to Ayodhya shall repair. 

They shall speak to Rama’s father glorious feat by Rama done, 

They shall speak to Dasa-ratha, Sita is by valour won. 

They shall say the noble princes safely live within our walls. 

They shall ask him by his presence to adorn our palace halls!” 

Pleased at heart the sage assented, envoys by the monarch sent, 

To Ayodhya’s distant city with the royal message went. 

Ill The Embassy to Ayodhya 

Three nights halting in their journey with their steeds fatigued and 
spent. 

Envoys from Mithila’s monarch to Ayodhya’s city went. 

And by royal mandate bidden stepped within the palace hall. 

Where the ancient Dasa-ratha sat with peers and courtiers all. 

And with greetings and obeisance spake their message calm and bold, 
Softly fell their gentle accents as their happy talc they told. 

“Greetings to thee, mighty monarch, greetings to each priest and peer, 
Wishes for thy health and safety from Videha’s king we bear, 

Janak monarch of Videha for thy happy life hath prayed. 

And by Viswa-mitra’s bidding words of gladsome message said: 

‘Know on earth my plighted promise, spoke by heralds near and far, — 
He shall win my peerless Sita who shall bend my bow of war, — 
Monarchs came and princely suitors, chiefs and warriors known to fame, 
Baffled in their fruitless effort left Mithila in their shame, 

Rama came with gallant Lakshman by their proud preceptor led, 

Bent and broke the mighty weapon, he the beauteous bride shall wed! 
Rama strained the weapon stoutly till it snapped and broke in twain, 
In the concourse of the monarchs, in the throng of armed men, 

Rama wins the peerless princess by the righteous will of Heaven, 

I redeem my plighted promise— be thy kind permission given 1 
Monarch of Kosala’s country! with each lord and peer and priest, 
Welcome to Mithila’s city, welcome to Videha’s feast, 

Joy thee in thy Rama’s triumph, joy thee with a father’s pride, 

Let each prince of proud Kosala win a fair Videha-bridel’ 



INDIAN IMAGINATION 


146 

These by Viswa-mitra’s bidding are the words our monarch said, 
This by Sata-nanda’s counsel is the quest that he hath made.” 

Joyful was Kosala’s monarch, spake to chieftains in the hall, 
Vama-deva and Vasishtha and to priests and Brahmans all: 

'‘Priests and peers! in far Mithila, so these friendly envoys tell. 
Righteous Rama, gallant Lakshman, in the royal palace dwell, 

And our brother of Videha prizes Rama’s warlike pride, 

To each prince of proud Kosala yields a fair Videha-bride, 

If it please ye, priests and chieftains, speed we to Mithila fair, 
World-renowned is Janak’s virtue. Heaven-inspired his learning rare 
Spake each peer and holy Brahman: “Dasa-ratha’s will be done!” 
Spake the king unto the envoys: “Part we with the rising sun!” 
Honoured with a regal honour, welcomed to a rich repast, 

Gifted envoys from Mithila day and night in gladness passed! 

IV Meeting of ]ana\ and Dasa-ratha 

On Ayodhya’s tower and turret now the golden morning woke, 
Dasa-ratha girt by courtiers thus to wise Sumantra spoke: 

“Bid the keepers of my treasure with their waggons lead the way, 

Ride in front with royal riches, gold and gems in bright array, 

Bid my warriors skilled in duty lead the four-fold ranks of war, 
Elephants and noble chargers, serried foot and battle-car, 

Bid my faithful chariot-driver harness quick each car of state, 

With the fleetest of my coursers, and upon my orders wait. 
Vama-deva and Vasishtha versed in Veda's ancient lore, 

Kasyapa and good Jabali sprung from holy saints of yore, 
Markandeya in his glory, Katyayana in his pride. 

Let each priest and proud preceptor with Kosala’s monarch ride. 
Harness to my royal chariot strong and stately steeds of war. 

For the envoys speed my journey and the way is long and far.” 

With each priest and proud retainer Dasa-ratha led the way, 
Glittering ranks of forces followed in their four-fold dread array. 
Four days on the way they journeyed till they reached Videha’s land, 
Janak with a courteous welcome came to greet the royal band. 
Joyously Videha’s monarch greeted every priest and peer. 

Greeted ancient Dasa-ratha in his accents soft and clear: 

“Hast thou come, my royal brother, on my house to yield thy grace, 
Hast thou made a peaceful journey, pride of Raghu’s royal race? 



THE EPIC OF RAMA 


147 


Welcome! for Mithila’s people seek my royal guest to greet, 
Welcome! for thy sons of valour long their loving sire to meet, 
Welcome to the priest Vasishtha versed in Veda's ancient lore. 
Welcome every righteous rishi sprung from holy saints of yore! 

And my evil fates are vanquished and my race is sanctified, 

With the warlike race of Raghu thus in loving bonds allied. 

Sacrifice and rites auspicious we ordain with rising sun. 

Ere the evening’s darkness closes, happy nuptials shall be done!” 
Thus in kind and courteous accents Janak spake his purpose high, 
And his royal love responding, Dasa-ratha made reply: 

“Gift betokens giver’s bounty, — so our ancient sages sing, — 

And thy righteous fame and virtue grace thy gift, Videha’s king! 
World-renowned is Janak’s bounty. Heaven-inspired his holy grace, 
And we take his boon and blessing as an honour to our race!” 

Royal grace and kingly greeting marked the ancient monarch’s word 
Janak with a grateful pleasure Dasa-ratha’s answer heard. 

And the Brahmans and preceptors joyously the midnight spent. 

And in converse pure and pleasant and in sacred sweet content. 
Righteous Rama, gallant Lakshman piously their father greet. 

Duly make their deep obeisance, humbly touch his royal feet, 

And the night is filled with gladness for the king revered and old. 
Honoured by the saintly Janak, greeted by his children bold, 

On Mithila’s tower and turret stars their silent vigils keep, 

When each sacred rite completed, Janak seeks his nightly sleep. 

V The Preparation 

All his four heroic princes now with Dasa-ratha stayed 
In Mithila’s ancient city, and their father’s will obeyed. 

Thither came the bold Yudhajit prince of proud Kaikeya’s line. 

On the day that Dasa-ratha made his gifts of gold and kine, 

And he met the ancient monarch, for his health and safety prayed. 
Made his bow and due obeisance and in gentle accents said: 

“List, O king! my royal father, monarch of Kaikeya’s race, 

Sends his kindly love and greetings with his blessings and his grace, 
And he asks if Dasa-ratha prospers in his wonted health, 

If his friends and fond relations live in happiness and wealth. 

Queen Kaikeyi is my sister, and to see her son I came, 

Bharat prince of peerless virtue, worthy of his father’s fame, 



INDIAN IMAGINATION 


148 

Aye, to see that youth of valour, by my royal father sent, 

To Ayodhya’s ancient city with an anxious heart I went, 

In the city of Mithila, — thus did all thy subjects say, — 

With his sons and with his kinsmen Dasa-ratha makes his stay, 
Hence in haste I journeyed hither, travelling late and early dawn, 
For to do thee due obeisance and to greet my sister’s son!” 

Spake the young and proud Kaikeya, dear and duly-greeted guest, 
Dasa-ratha on his brother choicest gifts and honours pressed. 
Brightly dawned the happy morning, and Kosala’s king of fame 
With his sons and wise Vasishtha to the sacred yajna ^ came, 

Rama and his gallant brothers decked in gem and jewel bright, 

In th’ auspicious hour of morning did the blest Kautu\a^ rite, 

And beside their royal father piously the princes stood. 

And to fair Videha’s monarch spake Vasishtha wise and good: 
“Dasa-ratha waits expectant with each proud and princely son. 
Waits upon the bounteous giver, for each holy rite is done, 

’Twixt the giver and the taker sacred word is sacred deed. 

Seal with gift thy plighted promise, let the nuptial rites proceed!” 
Thus the righteous-souled Vasishtha to Videha’s monarch prayed, 
Janak versed in holy Vedas thus in courteous accents said: 
“Wherefore waits the king expectant? Free to him this royal dome. 
Since my kingdom is his empire and my palace is his home, 

And the maidens, flame-resplendent, done each fond Kautu\a rite. 
Beaming in their bridal beauty tread the sacrificial site! 

I beside the lighted altar wait upon thy sacred best, 

And auspicious is the moment, sage Vasishtha knows the rest, 

Let the peerless Dasa-ratha, proud Kosala’s king of might. 

With his sons and honoured sages enter on the holy site, 

Let the righteous sage Vasishtha, sprung from Vedic saints of old. 
Celebrate the happy wedding; be the sacred mantras^ 

VI The Wedding 

Sage Vasishtha skilled m duty placed Videha’s honoured king^ 
Viswa-mitra, Sata-nanda, all within the sacred ring, 

^ Sacrifice. 

® Wedding investiture with the nuptial chord, 

* Hymns or incantations. 



THE EPIC OF RAMA 


149 


And he raised the holy altar as the ancient writs ordain. 

Decked and graced with scented garlands grateful unto gods and men. 
And he set the golden ladles, vases pierced by artists skilled, 

Holy censers fresh and fragrant, cups with sacred honey filled, 

San\a bowls and shining salvers, arghya ^ plates for honoured guest. 
Parched rice arranged in dishes, corn unhusked that filled the rest. 

And with careful hand Vasishtha grass around the altar flung, 

Offered gift to lighted Agni and the sacred mantra sung! 

Softly came the sweet-eyed Sita, — ^bridal blush upon her brow, — 

Rama in his manly beauty came to take the sacred vow, 

Janak placed his beauteous daughter facing Dasa-ratha’s son. 

Spake with father’s fond emotion and the holy rite was done: 

"‘This IS Sita child of Jana\, dearer unto him than life, 

Henceforth sharer of thy virtue, be she, prince, thy faithful wife. 

Of thy weal and woe parta\er, be she thine in every land. 

Cherish her in toy and sorrow, clasp her hand within thy hand, 

As the shadow to the substance, to her lord is faithful wife. 

And my Sita best of women follows thee tn death or lifer 
TearsT)edew his ancient bosom, gods and men his wishes share, 

And he sprinkles holy water on the blest and wedded pair. 

Next he turned to Sita’s sister, Urmila of beauty rare. 

And to Lakshman young and valiant spake in accents soft and fair: 
*fLa\shman, dauntless tn thy duty, loved of men and Gods above, 
Ta\e my dear devoted daughter, Urmila of stainless love, 

La\shman, fearless in thy virtue, ta\e thy true and faithful wife. 

Clasp her hand within thy fingers, be she thine in death or lifel” 

To his brother’s child Mandavi, Janak turned with father’s love. 

Yielded her to righteous Bharat, prayed for blessings from above: 
"Bharat, ta\e the fair Mandavi, be she thine in death or life, 

Cl^p^her hand .within thy fingers as thy true and faithful jwifer 
Last of all was Sruta-kriti, fair in form and fair in face. 

And her gentle name was honoured for her acts of righteous grace, 
"Ta\e her by the hand, Satrughna, be she thine in death or life. 

As the shadow to the substance, to her lord is faithful wife!'' 

Then the princes held the maidens, hand embraced in loving hand, 
And Vasishtha spake the mantra, holiest priest in all the land, 

And as ancient rite ordaineth, and as sacred laws require, 

Stepped each bride and princely bridegroom round the altar’s lighted fire, 

^ Offering to an honored |:uest, 



INDIAN IMAGINATION 


150 

Round Videha’s ancient monarch, round the holy rishis all, 

Lightly stepped the gentle maidens, proudly stepped the princes tall! 
And a rain of flowers descended from the sky serene and fair, 

And a soft celestial music filled the fresh and fragrant air, 

Bright Gandharvas skilled in music waked the sweet celestial song. 

Fair Apsaras^ m their beauty on the greensward tripped along! 

As the flowery ram descended and the music rose in pride, 

Thrice around the lighted altar every bridegroom led his bride. 

And the nuptial rites were ended, princes took their brides away, 

Janak followed with his courtiers, and the town was proud and gay! 

Vll Return to Ayodhya 

With his wedded sons and daughters and his guard in bright array, 

To the famed and fair Ayodhya, Dasa-ratha held his way. 

And they reached the ancient city decked with banners bright and brave. 
And the voice of drum and trumpet hailed the home-returning brave. 
Fragrant blossoms strewed the pathway, song of welcome filled the air, 
Joyous men and merry women issued forth in garments fair. 

And they lifted up their faces and they waved their hands on high, 

And they raised the voice of welcome as their righteous king drew nigh. 
Greeted by his loving subjects, welcomed by his priests of fame, 
Dasa-ratha with the princes to his happy city came. 

With the brides and stately princes in the town he held his way, 

Entered slow his lofty palace bright as peak of Himalay. 

Queen Kausalya blessed with virtue, Queen Kaikeyi in her pride, 
Queen Sumitra sweetly loving, greeted every happy bride, 

Soft-eyed Sita noble-destined, Urmila of spotless fame, 

Mandavi and Sruta-kirti to their loving mothers came. 

Decked in silk and queenly garments they performed each pious rite. 
Brought their blessings on the household, bowed to Gods of holy might. 
Bowed to all the honoured elders, blest the children with their love. 
And with soft and sweet endearment by their loving consorts moved. 
Happy were the wedded princes peerless in their warlike might. 

And they dwelt in stately mansions like Kuvera’s mansions bright. 
Loving wife and troops of kinsmen, wealth and glory on them wait, 
Filial love and fond affection sanctify their happy fate, 

^Celestial nymphs. 



THE EPIC OF RAMA 15I 

Once when on the palace chambers bright the golden morning woke, 
To his son the gentle Bharat, thus the ancient monarch spoke: 

“Know, my son, the prince Kaikeya, Yudajit of warlike fame, 

Queen Kaikeyi’s honoured brother, from his distant regions came, 

He hath come to take thee, Bharat, to Kaikeya’s monarch bold, 

Go and stay with them a season, greet thy grandsire loved of old/’ 
Bharat heard with filial duty and he hastened to obey, 

Took with him the young Satrughna in his grandsire’s home to stay. 
And from Rama and from Lakshman parted they with many a tear. 
From their young and gentle consorts, from their parents ever dear, 
And Kaikeya with the princes, with his guards and troopers gay, 

To his father’s western regions gladsome held his onward way. 

Rama with a pious duty, — favoured by the Gods above, — 

Tended still his ancient father with a never-faltering love, 

In his father’s sacred mandate still his noblest Duty saw. 

In the weal of subject nations recognised his foremost Law! 

And he pleased his happy mother with a fond and filial care, 

And his elders and his kinsmen with devotion soft and fair, 

Brahmans blessed the righteous Rama for his faith in gods above, 
People in the town and hamlet blessed him with their loyal love! 

With a woman’s whole affection fond and trusting Sita loved, 

And within her faithful bosom loving Rama lived and moved, 

And he loved her, for their parents chose her as his faithful wife. 
Loved her for her peerless beauty, for her true and trustful life. 

Loved and dwelt within her bosom though he wore a form apart, 

Rama in a sweet communion lived in Sita’s loving heart! 

Days of joy and months of gladness o’er the gentle Sita flew, 

As she like the Queen of Beauty brighter in her graces grew. 

And as Vishnu with his consort dwells in skies, alone, apart, 

Rama in a sweet communion lived in Sita’s loving heart! 

BOOK II VANA-GAMANA-ADESA 
(The Banishment) 

The events narrated in this Book occupy scarcely two days. The descrip- 
tion of Rama’s princely virtues and the rejoicings at his proposed corona- 
aon, With which* the Book begins, contrast with much dramauc force and 
effect with the dark intrigues which follow, and which end in his cruel 
banishment for fourteen years. 



INDIAN IMAGINATION 


152 

The portions translated in this Book form Sections i., li., vi., and vii., 
portions of Sections x. to xiii., and the whole of Section xviii. of Book ii. of 
the original text. 


I The Council Convened 

Thus the young and brave Satrughna, Bharat ever true and bold, 

Went to warlike western regions where Kaikeyas lived of old, 

Where the ancient Aswa-pati ruled his kingdom broad and fair, 

Hailed the sons of Dasa-ratha with a grandsire’s loving care. 

Tended with a fond affection, guarded with a gentle sway, 

Still the princes of their father dreamt and thought by night and day. 
And their father in Ayodhya, great of heart and stout of hand, 
Thought of Bharat and Satrughna living in Kaikeya’s land. 

For his great and gallant princes were to him his life and light. 

Were a part of Dasa-ratha like his hands and arms of might. 

But of all his righteous children righteous Rama won his heart, 

As SwAYAMBHU of all crcatures, was his dearest, holiest part, 

For his Rama strong and stately was his eldest and his best. 

Void of every baser passion and with every virtue blest! 

Soft in speech, sedate and peaceful, seeking still the holy path, 

Calm in conscious worth and valour, taunt nor cavil waked his wrath, 
In the field of war excelling, boldest warrior midst the bold. 

In the palace chambers musing on the tales by elders told, 

Faithful to the wise and learned, truthful in his deed and word, 

Rama dearly loved his people and his people loved their lord! 

To the Brahmans pure and holy Rama due obeisance made, 

To the poor and to the helpless deeper love and honour paid, 

Spirit of his race and nation was to high-souled Rama given, 

Thoughts that widen human glory, deeds that ope the gates of heaven. 
Not intent on idle cavil Rama spake with purpose high. 

And the God of speech might envy when he spake or made reply, 

In the learning of the Vedas highest meed and glory won, 

In the skill of arms the father scarcely matched the gallant son! 

Taught by sages and by elders in the manners of his race, 

Rama grew in social virtues and each soft endearing grace, 

Taught by inborn pride and wisdom patient purpose to conceal, 

Deep determined was his effort, dauntless was his silent will! 



THE EPIC OF RAMA 


153 


Peerless in his skill and valour steed and elephant to tame. 

Dauntless leader of his forces, matchless in his warlike fame, 

Higher thought and nobler duty did the righteous Rama move, 

By his toil and by his virtues still he sought his people’s love! 

Dasa-ratha marked his Rama with each kingly virtue blest. 

And from lifelong royal duties now he sought repose and rest; 

“Shall I see my son anointed, seated on Kosala’s throne, 

In the evening of my lifetime ere my days on earth be done, 

Shall I place my ancient empire in the youthful Rama’s care, 

Seek for me a higher duty and prepare for life more fair?” 

Pondering thus within his bosom counsel from his courtiers sought. 
And to crown his Rama, Regent, was his purpose and his thought. 

For strange signs and diverse tokens now appeared on earth and sky, 
And his failing strength and vigour spoke his end approaching nigh, 
And he witnessed Rama’s virtues filling all the world with love. 

As the fulhmoon’s radiant lustre fills the earth from skies above! 

Dear to him appeared his purpose, Rama to his people dear. 

Private wish and public duty made his path serene and clear, 

Dasa-ratha called his Council, summoned chiefs from town and plain. 
Welcomed too from distant regions monarchs’and the kings of men, 
Mansions meet for prince and chieftain to his guests the monarch gave. 
Gracious as the Lord of Creatures held the gathering rich and brave! 
Nathless to Kosala’s Council nor Videha’s monarch came, 

Nor the warlike chief Kaikeya, Aswa-pati king of fame, 

To those kings and near relations, ancient Dasa-ratha meant. 

Message of the proud anointment with his greetings would be sent. 
Brightly dawned the day of gathering; in the lofty Council Hall 
Stately chiefs and ancient burghers came and mustered one and all. 
And each prince and peer was seated on his cushion rich and high, 

And on monarch Dasa-ratha eager turned his anxious eye. 

Girt by crowned kings and chieftains, burghers from the town and plain, 
Dasa-ratha shone like Indra girt by heaven’s immortal train! 

11 The People Consulted 

With the voice of pealing thunder Dasa-ratha spake to all, 

To the princes and the burghers gathered in Ayodhya’s hall: 

“Kmown to all, the race of Raghu rules this empire broad and fair, 

Atid hath ever loved and cherished subjects with a father’s care, 



INDIAN IMAGINATION 


154 

In my fathers’ footsteps treading I have sought the ancient path, 
Nursed my people as my children, free from passion, pride and wrath, 
Underneath this white umbrella, seated on this royal throne, 

I have toiled to win their welfare and my task is almost done! 

Years have passed of fruitful labour, years of work by fortune blest, 
And the evening of my lifetime needs, my friends, the evening’s rest, 
Years have passed in watchful effort. Law and Duty to uphold. 

Effort needing strength and prowess — and my feeble limbs are old! 
Peers and burghers, let your monarch, now his lifelong labour done, 

For the weal of loving subjects on his empire seat his son, 
iNDRA-like in peerless valour, m^/-like in holy lore, 

Rama follows Dasa-ratha, but in virtues stands before! 

Throned in Pushya’s constellation shines the moon with fuller light. 
Throned to rule his father’s empire Rama wins a loftier might, 

He will be your gracious monarch favoured well by Fortune’s Queen, 
By his virtue and his valour lord of earth he might have been! 

Speak your thoughts and from this bosom lift a load of toil and care, 
On the proud throne of my fathers let me place a peerless heir, 

Speak your thought, my chiefs and people, if this purpose please you well. 
Or if wiser, better counsel in your wisdom ye can tell. 

Speak your thoughts without compulsion, though this plan to me be dear, 
If some middle course were wiser, if some other way were clear!” 
Gathered chieftains hailed the mandate with applauses long and loud. 
As the peafowls hail the thunder of the dark and laden cloud. 

And the gathered subjects echoed loud and long the welcome sound. 
Till the voices of the people shook the sky and solid ground! 

Brahmans versed in laws of duty, chieftains in their warlike pride, 
Countless men from town and hamlet heard the mandate far and wide, 
And they met in consultation, joyously with one accord. 

Freely and in measured accents, gave their answer to their lord: 

'Tears of toil and watchful labour weigh upon thee, king of men. 
Young in years is righteous Rama, Heir and Regent let him reign, 

We would see the princely Rama, Heir and Regent duly made. 

Riding on the royal tusker in the white umbrella’s shade!” 

Searching still their secret purpose, seeking still their thought to know. 
Spake again the ancient monarch in his measured words and slow: 

"I would know your inner feelings, loyal thoughts and whispers kind, 
For a doubt within me lingers and a shadow clouds my mind, 



THE EPIC OF RAMA 


155 


True to Law and true to Duty while I rule this kingdom fair, 
Wherefore would you see my Rama seated as the Regent Heir?” 

“We would see him Heir and Regent, Dasa-ratha, ancient lord, 

For his heart is blessed with valour, virtue marks his deed and word, 
Lives not man in all the wide earth who excels the stainless youth, 

In his loyalty to Duty, in his love of righteous Truth, 

Truth impels his thought and action, Truth inspires his soul with grace, 
And his virtue fills the wide earth and exalts his ancient race! 

Bright Immortals know his valour; with his brother Lakshman bold 
He hath never failed to conquer hostile town or castled hold, 

And returning from his battles, from the duties of the war. 

Riding on his royal tusker or his all-resistless car. 

As a father to his children to his loving men he came. 

Blessed our homes and maids and matrons till our infants lisped his 
name. 

For our humble woes and troubles Rama hath the ready tear, 

To our humble tales of suffering Rama lends his willing ear! 

Happy is the royal father who hath such a righteous son. 

For in town and mart and hamlet every heart hath Rama won. 

Burghers and the toiling tillers tales of Rama’s kindness say, 

Man and infant, maid and matron, morn and eve for Rama pray, 

To the Gods and bright Immortals we our inmost wishes send. 

May the good and godlike Rama on his father’s throne ascend. 

Great in gifts and great in glory, Rama doth our homage own. 

We would see the princely Rama seated on his father’s throne!” 

Ill The City Decorated 

With his consort pious Rama, pure in deed and pure in thought, 

After evening’s due ablutions Narayana’s chamber sought, 

Prayed unto the Lord of Creatures, Narayana Ancient Sire, 

Placed his offering on his forehead, poured it on the lighted fire. 

Piously partook the remnant, sought for Narayana’s aid. 

As he kept his fast and vigils on the grass of \usa^ spread. 

With her lord the saintly Sita silent passed the sacred night, 
Contemplating World’s Preserver, Lord of Heaven’s ethereal height. 
And within the sacred chamber on the grass of \usa lay. 

Till the crimson streaks of morning ushered in the festive day, 

' Grass strewn round the altar at sacrifice. 



156 INDIAN IMAGINATION 

Till the royal bards and minstrels chanted forth the morning call. 
Pealing through the holy chamber, echoing through the royal hall. 

Past the night of sacred vigils, in his silken robes arrayed. 

Message of the proud anointment Rama to the Brahmans said, 

And the Brahmans spake to burghers that the festive day was come. 

Till the mart and crowded pathway rang with note of pipe and drum, 
And the townsmen heard rejoicing of the vigils of the night. 

Kept by Rama and by Sita for the day’s auspicious rite. 

Rama shall be Heir and Regent, Rama shall be crowned to-day,— 
Rapid flew the gladdening message with the morning’s gladsome ray, 
And the people of the city, maid and matron, man and boy, 

Decorated fair Ayodhya in their wild tumultuous joy! 

On the temple’s lofty steeple high as cloud above the air, 

On the crossing of the pathways, in the garden green and fair. 

On the merchant’s ample warehouse, on the shop with stores displayed, 
On the mansion of the noble by the cunning artist made. 

On the gay and bright pavilion, on the high and shady trees, 

Banners rose and glittering streamers, flags that fluttered in the breeze! 
Actors gay and nimble dancers, singers skilled in lightsome song. 

With their antics and their music pleased the gay and gathered throng. 
And the people met in conclaves, spake of Rama, Regent Heir, 

And the children by the roadside lisped of Rama brave and fair! 

Women wove the scented garland, merry maids the censer lit. 

Men with broom and sprinkled water swept the spacious mart and street, 
Rows of trees and posts they planted hung with lamps for coming night, 
That the midnight dark might rival splendour of the noonday light! 
Troops of men and merry children laboured with a loving care. 
Woman’s skill and woman’s fancy made the city passing fair, 

So that good and kindly Rama might his people’s toil approve. 

So that sweet and soft-eyed Sita might accept her people’s love! 

Groups of joyous townsmen gathered in the square or lofty hall, 
Praised the monarch Dasa-ratha, regent Rama young and tall: 

“Great and good is Dasa-ratha born of Raghu^s royal race. 

In the fulness of his lifetime on his son he grants his grace. 

And we hail the rite auspicious for our prince of peerless might, 

He will guard us by his valour, he will save our cherished right. 

Dear unto his loving brothers in his father’s palace hall. 

As is Rama to his brothers dear is Rama to us all, 



THE EPIC OF RAMA 


157 


Long live ancient Dasa-ratha king of Raghu’s myal race, 

We shall see his son anointed by his father’s righteous grace!” 

Thus of Rama’s consecration spake the burghers one and all, 

And the men from distant hamlets poured within the city wall. 
From the confines of the empire, north and south and west and cast, 
Came to see the consecration and to share the royal feast! 

And the rolling tide of nations raised their voices loud and high. 
Like the tide of sounding ocean when the full moon lights the sky, 
And Ayodhya thronged by people from the hamlet, mart and lea. 
Was tumultuous like the ocean thronged by creatures of the sea! 

IV Intrigue 

In the inner palace chamber stood the proud and peerless queen, 
With a mother’s joy Kaikeyi gaily watched the festive scene. 

But with deep and deadly hatred Manthara, her nurse and maid. 
Marked the city bright with banners, and in scornful accents said: 
“Take thy presents back, Kaikeyi, for they ill befit the day. 

And when clouds of sorrow darken, ill beseems thee to be gay. 

And thy folly moves my laughter though an anguish wakes my sigh. 
For a gladness stirs thy bosom when thy greatest woe is nighf 
Who that hath a woman’s wisdom, who that is a prudent wife. 
Smiles in joy when prouder rival triumphs in the race of life. 

How can hapless Queen Kaikeyi greet this deed of darkness done. 
When the favoured Queen Kausalya wins the empire for her son? 
Know the truth, O witless woman! Bharat is unmatched in fame, 
Rama, deep and darkly jealous, dreads thy Bharat’s rival claim, 
Younger Lakshman with devotion doth on eldest Rama wait. 

Young Satrughna with affection follows Bharat’s lofty fate, 

Rama dreads no rising danger from the twins, the youngest-born. 
But thy Bharat’s claims and virtues fill his jealous heart with scorn! 
Trust me, queen, thy Bharat’s merits are too well and widely known, 
And he stands too near and closely by a rival brother’s throne, 

Rama hath a wolf-like wisdom and a fang to reach the foe, 

And I tremble for thy Bharat, Heaven avert untimely woe! 

Happy is the Queen Kausalya, they will soon anoint her son, 

When on Pushya’s constellation gaily rides to-morrow’s moon, 
Happy is the Queen Kausalya in her regal pomp and state, 

And Kaikeyi like a bond-slave must upon her rival wait] 



158 INDIAN IMAGINATION 

Wilt thou do her due obeisance as we humble women do, 

Will thy proud and princely Bharat as his brother’s henchman go, 

Will thy Bharat’s gentle consort, fairest princess in this land, 

In her tears and in her anguish wait on Sita’s proud command?” 

With a woman’s scornful anger Manthara proclaimed her grief. 

With a mother’s love for Rama thus Kaikeyi answered brief: 

“What inspires thee, wxcked woman, thus to rail in bitter tone, 

Shall not Rama, best and eldest, fill his father’s royal throne. 

What alarms thee, crooked woman, in the happy rites begun. 

Shall not Rama guard his brothers as a father guards his son ? 

And when Rama’s reign is over, shall not Gods my Bharat speed, 

And by law and ancient custom shall not younger son succeed, 

In the present bliss of Rama and in Bharat’s future hope, 

What offends thee, senseless woman, wherefore dost thou idly mope? 
Dear is Rama as my Bharat, ever duteous in his ways, 

Rama honours Queen Kausalya, loftier honour to me pays, 

Rama’s realm is Bharat’s kingdom, ruling partners they shall prove. 

For himself than for his brothers Rama owns no deeper love!” 

Scorn and anger shook her person and her bosom heaved a sigh, 

As m wilder, fiercer accents Manthara thus made reply: 

“What insensate rage or madness clouds thy heart and blinds thine eye, 
Courting thus thy own disaster, courting danger dread and high, 

What dark folly clouds thy vision to the workings of thy foe, 

Heedless thus to seek destruction and to sink in gulf of woe? 

Know, fair queen, by law and custom, son ascends the throne of pride, 
Rama’s son succeedeth Rama, luckless Bharat steps aside, 

Brothers do not share a kingdom, nor can one by one succeed, 

Mighty were the civil discord if such custom were decreed! 

For to stop all war and tumult, thus the ancient laws ordain. 

Eldest son succeeds his father, younger children may not reign, 

Bharat barred from Rama’s empire, vainly decked with royal grace. 
Friendless, joyless, long shall wander, alien from his land and race! 
Thou hast borne the princely Bharat, nursed him from thy gentle breast, 
To a queen and to a mother need a prince’s claims be pressed. 

To a thoughtless heedless mother must I Bharat’s virtues plead. 

Must the Queen Kaikeyi witness Queen Kausalya’s son succeed? 

Trust thy old and faithful woman who hath nursed thee, youthful queen, 
And in great and princely houses many darksome deeds hath seen, 



THE EPIC OF RAMA 


159 


Trust my word, the wily Rama for his spacious empire’s good, 

Soon will banish friendless Bharat and secure his peace with blood! 
Thou hast sent the righteous Bharat to thy ancient father’s land, 
And Satrughna young and valiant doth beside his brother stand, 
Young in years and generous-hearted, they will grow in mutual love. 
As the love of elder Rama doth in Lakshman’s bosom move. 

Young companions grow in friendship, and our ancient legends tell. 
Weeds protect a forest monarch which the woodman’s axe would fell, 
Crowned Rama unto Lakshman will a loving brother prove, 

But for Bharat and Satrughna, Rama’s bosom owns no love. 

And a danger thus ariseth if the elder wins the throne, 

Haste thee, heedless Queen Kaikeyi, save the younger and thy son! 
Speak thy mandate to thy husband, let thy Bharat rule at home, 

In the deep and pathless jungle let the banished Rama roam, 

This will please thy ancient father and thy father’s kith and km. 

This will please the righteous people, Bharat knows no guile or sin! 
Speak thy mandate to thy husband, win thy son a happy fate. 

Doom him not to Rama’s service or his unrelenting hate, 

Let not Rama in his rancour shed a younger brother’s blood. 

As the lion slays the tiger in the deep and echoing wood! 

With the magic of thy beauty thou hast won thy monarch’s heart, 
Queen Kausalya’s bosom rankles with a woman’s secret smart. 

Let her not with woman’s vengeance turn upon her prouder foe. 

And as crowned Rama’s mother venge her in Kaikeyi’s woe, 

Mark my word, my child Kaikeyi, much these ancient eyes have seen, 
Rama’s rule is death to Bharat, insult to my honoured queen!” 

Like a slow but deadly poison worked the ancient nurse’s tears. 

And a wife’s undying impulse mingled with a mother’s fears. 

Deep within Kaikeyi’s bosom worked a woman’s jealous thought, 
Speechless in her scorn and anger mourner’s dark retreat she sought. 

V The Queen's Demand 

Rama shall be crowned at sunrise, so did royal bards proclaim, 

Every rite arranged and ordered, Dasa-ratha homeward came, 

To the fairest of his consorts, dearest to his ancient heart, 

Came the king with eager gladness joyful message to impart, 
Radiant as the Lord of Midnight, ere the eclipse casts its gloom. 
Came the old and ardent monarch heedless of his darksome doom! 



i6o 


INDIAN IMAGINATION 


Through the shady palace garden where the peacock wandered free, 
Lute and lyre poured forth their music, parrot flew from tree to tree. 
Through the corridor of creepers, painted rooms by artists done. 

And the halls where scented Champa\ ^ and the flaming Aso/^ “ shone, 
Through the portico of splendour graced by silver, tusk and gold, 
Radiant with his thought of gladness walked the monarch proud and 
bold. 

Through the lines of scented blossoms which by limpid waters shone, 
And the rooms with seats of silver, ivory bench and golden throne, 
Through the chamber of confection, where each viand wooed the taste, 
Every object in profusion as in regions of the blest, 

Through Kaikeyi’s inner closet lighted with a softened sheen, 

Walked the king with eager longing, — but Kaikeyi was not seen! 
Thoughts of love and gentle dalliance woke within his ancient heart, 
And the magic of her beauty and the glamour of her art, 

With a soft desire the monarch vainly searched the vanished fair, 
Found her not in royal chamber, found her not in gay parterre! 

Filled with love and longing languor loitered not the radiant queen. 

In her soft voluptuous chamber, in the garden, grove or green. 

And he asked the faithful warder of Kaikeyi loved and lost. 

She who served him with devotion and his wishes never crost, 

Spake the warder in his terror that the queen with rage distraught, 
Weeping silent tears of anguish had the mourner’s chamber sought! 
Thither flew the stricken monarch; on the bare and unswept ground. 
Trembling with tumultuous passion was the Queen Kaikeyi found, 
On the cold uncovered pavement sorrowing lay the weeping wife. 
Young wife of an ancient husband, dearer than his heart and life! 

Like a bright and blossoming creeper rudely severed from the earth, 
Like a fallen fair Apsara^ beauteous nymph of heavenly birth, 

Like a female forest-ranger bleeding from the hunter’s dart, 

Whom her mate the forest-monarch soothes with soft endearing art. 
Lay the queen in tears of anguish! And with sweet and gentle word 
To the lotus-eyed lady softly spake her loving lord: 

“Wherefore thus, my Queen and Empress, sorrow-laden is thy heart. 
Who with daring slight or insult seeks to cause thy bosom smart? 

^ A tree vidth yellow blossoms; its blossom. 

® Name o£ a bngbt flower. 

® Celestial nymph 



THE EPIC OF RAMA l6l 

If some unknown ailment pains thee, evil spirit of the air. 

Skilled physicians wait upon thee, priests with incantations fair, 

If from human foe some insult, wipe thy tears and doom his fate, 

Rich reward or royal vengeance shall upon thy mandate wait! 

Wilt thou doom to death the guiltless, free whom direst sins debase, 
Wilt thou lift the poor and lowly or the proud and great disgrace, 
Speak, and I and all my courtiers Queen Kaikeyi’s best obey, 

For thy might is boundless, Empress, limitless thy regal sway! 

Rolls my chariot-wheel revolving from the sea to farthest sea, 

And the wide earth is my empire, monarchs list my proud decree, 
Nations of the eastern regions and of Sindhu’s western wave. 

Brave Saurashtras and the races who the ocean’s dangers brave, 

Vangas, Angas and Magadhas, warlike Matsyas of the west, 

Kasis and the southern races, brave Kosalas £rst and best, 

Nations of my world-wide empire, rich in corn and sheep and kine, 

All shall serve my Queen Kaikeyi and their treasures all are thine. 

Speak, command thy king’s obedience, and thy wrath will melt away, 
Like the melting snow of winter ’neath the sun’s reviving ray!” 

Blinded was the ancient husband as he lifted up her head. 

Heedless oath and word he plighted that her wish should be obeyed, 
Scheming for a fatal purpose, inly then Kaikeyi smiled, 

And by sacred oath and promise bound the monarch love-beguiled: 
“Thou hast given, Dasa-ratha, troth and word and royal oath. 

Three and thirty Gods be witness, watchers of the righteous truth, 

Sun and Moon and Stars be witness, Sky and Day and sable Night, 
Rolling Worlds and this our wide Earth, and each dark and unseen 
wight. 

Witness Rangers of the forest, Household Gods that guard us both, 
Mortal beings and Immortal, — ^witness ye the monarch’s oath. 

Ever faithful to his promise, ever truthful in his word, 

Dasa-ratha grants my prayer, Spirits and the Gods have heard! 

Call to mind, O righteous monarch, days when in a bygone strife, 
Warring with thy foes immortal thou hadst almost lost thy life, 

With a woman’s loving tendance poor Kaikeyi cured thy wound. 

Till from death and danger rescued, thou wert by a promise bound. 
Two rewards my husband offered, what my loving heart might seek, 
Long delayed their wished fulfilment,— -now let poor Kaikeyi speak, 
And if royal deeds redeem not what thy royal lips did say. 

Victim to thy broken promise Queen Kaikeyi dies to-day! 



i 62 


INDIAN IMAGINATION 


By these rites ordained for Rama, — such the news my mentals bring , — 
L^t my Bharat, and not Rama, be anointed Regent King, 

Wearing sl^ns and matted tresses, in the cave or hermit's cell, 
Fourteen years in Danda^s forests let the elder Rama dwell. 

These are Queen Kai\eyis wishes, these are boons for which I pray, 

I would see my son anointed, Rama banished on this day!" 

VI The King's Lament 

“Is this torturing dream or madness, do my feeble senses fail, 

O’er my darkened mind and bosom doth a fainting fit prevail?” 

So the stricken monarch pondered and in hushed and silent fear, 
Looked on her as on a tigress looks the dazed and stricken deer. 
Lying on the unswept pavement still he heaved the choking sigh. 
Like a wild and hissing serpent quelled by incantations high! 

Sobs convulsive shook his bosom and his speech and accent failed, 
And a dark and deathlike faintness o’er his feeble soul prevailed, 
Stunned awhile remained the monarch, then in furious passion woke, 
And his eyeballs flamed with redfire, to the queen as thus he spoke: 
“Traitress to thy king and husband, fell destroyer of thy race. 
Wherefore seeks thy ruthless rancour Rama rich in righteous grace, 
Traitress to thy kith and kindred, Rama loves thee as thy own, 
Wherefore then with causeless vengeance as a mother hate thy son? 
Have I courted thee, Kaikeyi, throned thee in my heart of truth, 
Nursed thee in my home and bosom like a snake of poisoned tooth, 
Have I courted thee, Kaikeyi, placed thee on Ayodhya’s throne. 

That my Rama, loved of people, thou shouldst banish from his own ? 
Banish fer my Queen Kausalya, Queen Sumitra saintly wife, 
Wrench from me my ancient empire, from my bosom wrench my life, 
But with brave and princely Rama never can his father part, 

Till his ancient life is ended, cold and still his beating heart! 

Sunless roll the world in darkness, rainless may the harvests thrive, 
But from righteous Rama severed, never can his sire survive, 

Feeble is thy aged husband, few and brief on earth his day, 

Lend me, wife, a woman’s kindness, as a consort be my stay! 

Ask for other boon, Kaikeyi, aught my sea-girt empire yields, 
Wealth or treasure, gem or jewel, castled town or smiling fields, 

Ask for other gift, Kaikeyi, and thy wishes shall be given, 

Stain me not with crime unholy in the eye of righteous Heaven!” 



THE EPIC OF RAMA 


163 


Coldly spake the Queen Kaikeyi: “If thy royal heart repent, 

Break thy word and plighted promise, let thy royal faith be rent, 

Ever known for truth and virtue, speak to peers and monarchs all, 
When from near and distant regions they shall gather in thy hall, 

Speak if so it please thee, monarch, of thy evil-destined wife, 

How she loved with wife’s devotion, how she served and saved thy life. 
How on plighted promise trusting for a humble boon she sighed. 

How a monarch broke his promise, how a cheated woman died!” 
“Fair thy form,” resumed the monarch, “beauty dwells upon thy face. 
Woman’s winsome charms bedeck thee, and a woman’s peerless grace. 
Wherefore then within thy bosom wakes this thought of cruel wile. 
And what dark and loathsome spirit stains thy heart with blackest guile ? 
Ever since the day, Kaikeyi, when a gentle bride you came, 

By a wife’s unfailing duty you have won a woman’s fame. 

Wherefore now this cruel purpose hath a stainless heart defiled, 
Ruthless wish to send my Rama to the dark and pathless wild? 
Wherefore, darkly-scheming woman, on unrighteous purpose bent. 
Doth thy cruel causeless vengeance on my Rama seek a vent, 
Wherefore seek by deeds unholy for thy son the throne to win, 

Throne which Bharat doth not covet, — blackened by his mother’s sin? 
Shall I see my banished Rama mantled in the garb of woe. 

Reft of home and kin and empire to the pathless jungle go. 

Shall I see disasters sweeping o’er my empire dark and deep. 

As the forces of a foeman o’er a scattered army sweep ? 

Shall I hear assembled monarchs in their whispered voices say. 

Weak and foolish in his dotage, Dasa-ratha holds his sway. 

Shall I say to righteous elders when they blame my action done, 

That by woman’s mandate driven I have banished thus my son? 

Queen Kausalya, dear-loved woman! she who serves me as a slave, 
Soothes me like a tender sister, helps me like a consort brave. 

As a fond and loving mother tends me with a watchful care, 

As a daughter ever duteous doth obeisance sweet and fair. 

When my fond and fair Kausalya asks me of her banished son. 

How shall Dasa-ratha answer for the impious action done, 

How can husband, cold and cruel, break a wife’s confiding heart, 

How can father, false and faithless, from his best and eldest part?” 
Coldly spake the Queen Kaikeyi: “If thy royal heart repent, 

Break thy word and plighted promise, let thy royal faith be rent. 



INDIAN IMAGINATION 


164 

Truth-abiding is our monarch, so I heard the people say, 

And his word is all inviolate, stainless virtue marks his sway, 

Let It now be known to nations, — ^righteous Dasa-ratha lied. 

And a trusting, cheated woman broke her loving heart and died!” 
Darker grew the shades of midnight, coldly shone each distant star. 
Wilder in the monarch’s bosom raged the struggle and the war: 
“Starry midnight, robed in shadows! give my wearied heart relief. 
Spread thy sable covering mantle o’er an impious monarch’s grief. 
Spread thy vast and inky darkness o’er a deed of nameless crime. 
Reign perennial o’er my sorrows heedless of the lapse of time, 

May a sinful monarch perish ere the dawning of the day. 

O’er a dark life sin-polluted, beam not morning’s righteous ray!” 

VII The Sentence 

Morning came and duteous Rama to the palace bent his way. 

For to make his salutation and his due obeisance pay, 

And he saw his aged father shorn of kingly pomp and pride, 

And he saw the Queen Kaikeyi sitting by her consort’s side. 
Duteously the righteous Rama touched the ancient monarch’s feet, 
Touched the feet of Queen Kaikeyi with a son’s obeisance meet, 
“Rama!” cried the feeble monarch, but the tear bedimmed his eye. 
Sorrow choked his failing utterance and his bosom heaved a sigh, 
Rama started in his terror at his father’s grief or wrath. 

Like a traveller in the jungle crossed by serpent in his path! 

Reft of sense appeared the monarch, crushed beneath a load of pain, 
Heaving oft a sigh of sorrow as his heart would break in twain. 

Like the ocean tempest-shaken, like the sun in eclipse pale. 

Like a crushed repenting rishi when his truth and virtue fail! 
Breathless mused the anxious Rama, — what foul action hath he done, 
What strange anger fills his father, wherefore greets he not his son? 
“Speak, my mother,” uttered Rama, “what strange error on my part. 
Unremembered sin or folly fills with grief my father’s heart. 

Gracious unto me is father with a father’s boundless grace. 
Wherefore clouds his altered visage, wherefore tears bedew his face? 
Doth a piercing painful ailment rack his limbs with cruel smart, 
Doth some secret silent anguish wring his torn and tortured heart, 
Bharat lives with brave Satrughna in thy father’s realms afar. 

Hath some cloud of dark disaster crossed their bright auspicious star? 



THE EPIC OF RAMA 


165 


Duteously the royal consorts on the loving monarch wait. 

Hath some woe or dire misfortune dimmed the lustre of their fate, 

I would yield my life and fortune ere I wound my father’s heart. 

Hath my unknown crime or folly caused his ancient bosom smart? 
Ever dear is Queen Kaikeyi to her consort and her king. 

Hath some angry accent escaped thee thus his royal heart to wring. 
Speak, my ever-loving mother, speak the truth, for thou must know. 
What distress or deep disaster pains his heart and clouds his brow?” 
Mother’s love nor woman’s pity moved the deep-determined queen. 

As in cold and cruel accents thus she spake her purpose keen: 

“Grief nor woe nor sudden ailment pains thy father loved of old, 

But he fears to speak his purpose to his Rama true and bold. 

And his loving accents falter some unloving wish to tell. 

Till you give your princely promise, you will serve his mandate well! 
Listen more, in bygone seasons, — ^Rama thou wert then unborn, — 

I had saved thy royal father, he a gracious boon had sworn. 

But his feeble heart repenting is by pride and passion stirred. 

He would break his royal promise as a caitiff breaks his word. 

Years have passed and now the monarch would his ancient word forego, 
He would build a needless causeway when the waters ceased to flow! 
Truth inspires each deed attempted and each word by monarchs spoke, 
Not for thee, though loved and honoured, should a royal vow be broke, 
If the true and righteous Rama binds him by his father’s vow, 

I will tell thee of the anguish which obscures his royal brow. 

If thy feeble bosom falter and thy halting purpose fail. 

Unredeemed is royal promise and unspoken is my tale!” 

“Speak thy word,” exclaimed the hero, “and my purpose shall not fail 
Rama serves his father’s mandate and his bosom shall not quail. 
Poisoned cup or death untimely, — ^what the cruel fates decree, — 

To his king and to his father Rama yields obedience free, 

Speak my father’s royal promise, hold me by his promise tied, 

Rama speaks and shall not falter, for his lips have never lied.” 

Cold and clear Kaikeyi’s accents fell as falls the hunter’s knife, 

“Listen then to word of promise and redeem it with thy life, 

Wounded erst by foes immortal, saved by Queen Kaikeyi’s care. 

Two great boons your father plighted and his royal words were fair, 

I have sought their due fulfilment,— brightly shines my Bharat’s star, 
Bharat shall be Heir and Regent, Rama shall be banished far! 



i66 


INDIAN IMAGINATION 


If thy father's royal mandate thou wouldst list and honour still, 
Fourteen years in Dandal(s forest live and wander at thy will, 

Seven long years and seven, my Rama, thou shah in the pmgle dwell, 
Bar\ of trees shall be thy raiment and thy home the hermit's cell. 
Over fair Kosala's empire let my princely Bharat reign. 

With his cars and steeds and tuskers, wealth and gold and armed men! 
Tender-hearted is the monarch, age and sorrow dim his eye, 

And the anguish o£ a father checks his speech and purpose high. 

For the love he bears thee, Rama, cruel vow he may not speak, 

I have spoke his will and mandate, and thy true obedience seek.” 
Calmly Rama heard the mandate, grief nor anger touched his heart, 
Calmly from his father’s empire and his home prepared to part. 


BOOK III DASA-RATHA-VIYOGA 
{The Death of the King) 

The FIRST SIX days of Rama’s wanderings are narrated in this Book. Sita 
and the faithful Lakshman accompanied Rama in his exile, and the loyal 
people of Ayodhya followed their exiled prince as far as the banks of the 
Tamasa river, where they halted on the first night. Rama had to steal 
away at night to escape the citizens, and his wanderings during the 
following days give us beautiful glimpses of forest life in holy hermitages. 
Thirty centuries have passed since the age of the Kosalas and Videhas, 
but every step of the supposed journey of Rama is well known in India 
to this day, and is annually traversed by thousands of devoted pilgrims. 
The past is not dead and buried in India, it lives in the hearts of millions 
of faithful men and faithful women, and shall live for ever. 

On the third day of their exile, Rama and his wife and brother crossed 
the Ganges; on the fourth day they came to the hermitage of Bharad-vaja, 
which stood where Allahabad now stands, on the confluence of the 
Ganges and the Jumna; on the fifth day they crossed the Jumna, the 
southern shores of which were then covered with woods; and on the sixth 
day they came to the hill of Chitrakuta, where they met the saint 
Valmiki, the reputed author of this Epic. “We have often looked,” says 
a writer in Calcutta Review, vol. xxii, “on that green hill: it is the holiest 
spot of that sect of the Hindu faith who devote themselves to this incar- 
nation of Vishnu. The whole neighbourhood is Rama’s country. Every 
headland has some legend, every cavern is connected with his name, 



THE EPIC OF RAMA 


167 

some of the wild fruits are still called Sita-phal, being the reputed food 
of the exile. Thousands and thousands annually visit the spot, and round 
the hill is raised a footpath on which the devotee, with naked feet, treads 
full of pious awe.” 

Grief for the banished Rama pressed on the ancient heart of Dasa- 
ratha. The feeble old king pined away and died, remembering and re- 
counting on his death-bed how in his youth he had caused sorrow and 
death to an old hermit by killing his son. Scarcely any passage in the 
Epic is more touching than this old sad story told by the dying monarch. 

The portions translated in this Book form the whole or the main por- 
tions of Sections xxvi., xxvii., xxxi., xxxix., xl., xlvi., lii., hv., Iv., Ivi., Ixiii., 
and Ixiv. of Book 11. of the original text. 

1 Woman's Love 

“Dearly loved, devoted Sita! daughter of a royal line, 

Part we now, for years of wand’ring in the pathless woods is mine, 

For my father, promise-fettered, to Kaikeyi yields the sway, 

And she wills her son anointed, — ^fourteen years doth Rama stray. 

But before I leave thee, Sita, in the wilderness to rove, 

Yield me one more tender token of thy true and trustful love! 

Serve my crowned brother, Sita, as a faithful, duteous dame, 

Tell him not of Rama’s virtues, tell him not of Rama’s claim. 

Since my royal father willeth, — Bharat shall be regent-heir. 

Serve him with a loyal duty, serve him with obeisance fair. 

Since my royal father willeth, — ^years of banishment be mine. 

Brave in sorrow and in suffering, woman’s brightest fame be thine! 
Keep thy fasts and vigils, Sita, while thy Rama is away. 

Faith in Gods and faith in virtue on thy bosom hold their sway. 

In the early watch of morning to the Gods for blessings pray. 

To my father Dasa-ratha honour and obeisance pay, 

To my mother, Queen Kausalya, is thy dearest tendance due, 

Offer her thy consolation, be a daughter fond and true! 

Queen Kaikeyi and Sumitra equal love and honour claim. 

With a soothing soft endearment sweetly serve each royal dame. 

Cherish Bharat and Satrughna with a sister’s watchful love, 

And a mother’s true affection and a mother’s kindness prove! 

Listen, Sita, unto Bharat speak no heedless angry word, 

He is monarch of Kosala and of Raghu’s race is lord. 



i68 


INDIAN IMAGINATION 


Crowned kings our willing service and our faithful duty own. 
Dearest sons they disinherit, cherish strangers near the throne! 
Bharat’s will with deep devotion and with faultless faith obey, 

Truth and virtue on thy bosom ever hold their gentle sway, 

And to please each dear relation, gentle Sita, be it thine, 

Part we love! for years of wand’ring in the pathless woods is mine!” 
Rama spake, and soft-eyed Sita, ever sweet in speech and word, 
Stirred by loving woman’s passion boldly answered thus her lord: 
‘‘Do I hear my husband rightly, are these words my Rama spake. 
And her banished lord and husband will the wedded wife forsake? 
Lightly I dismiss the counsel which my lord hath lightly said, 

For It ill beseems a warrior and my husband’s princely grade! 

For the faithful woman follows where her wedded lord may lead, 
In the banishment of Rama, Sita's exile is decreed, 

Sire nor son nor loving brother rules the wedded woman's state, 

With her lord she falls or rises, with her consort courts her fate. 

If the righteous son of Raghu wends to forests dar\ and drear, 

Sita steps before her husband wild and thorny paths to clear! 

Like the tasted refuse water cast thy timid thoughts aside. 

Take me to the pathless jungle, bid me by my lord abide, 

Car and steed and gilded palace, vain are these to woman’s life, 
Dearer is her husband’s shadow to the loved and loving wife! 

For my mother often taught me and my father often spake. 

That her home the wedded woman doth beside her husband make. 
As the shadow to the substance, to her lord is faithful wife. 

And she parts not from her consort till she parts with fleeting life! 
Therefore bid me seek the jungle and in pathless forests roam, 
Where the wild deer freely ranges and the tiger makes his home. 
Happier than in father’s mansions in the woods will Sita rove. 

Waste no thought on home or kindred, nestling in her husband’s love! 
World-renowned is Rama’s valour, fearless by her Rama’s side, 

Sita will still live and wander with a faithful woman’s pride. 

And the wild fruit she will gather from the fresh and fragrant wood. 
And the food by Rama tasted shall be Sita’s cherished food! 

Bid me seek the sylvan greenwoods, wooded hills and plateaus high. 
Limpid rills and crystal nullas^ as they softly ripple by, 

And where in the lake of lotus tuneful ducks their plumage lave, 
i^t me with my loving Rama skim the cool translucent wave! 

* Rivulets. 



THE EPiC OF RAMA 


169 


Years will pass in happy union, —happiest lot to woman given, — 

Sita seeks not throne or empire, nor the brighter joys of heaven. 
Heaven conceals not brighter mansions in its sunny fields of pride, 
Where without her lord and husband faithful Sita would reside! 
Therefore let me seek the jungle where the jungle-rangers rove, 
Dearer than the royal palace, where I share my husband’s love, 

And my heart in sweet communion shall my Rama’s wishes share, 
And my wifely toil shall lighten Rama’s load of woe and care!” 

Vainly gentle Rama pleaded dangers of the jungle life. 

Vainly spake of toil and trial to a true and tender wife! 

77 Brothers Faithfulness 

Tears bedewed the face of Lakshman as he heard what Sita said, 

And he touched the feet of Rama and in gentle accents prayed: 

'7/ my elder and his lady to the pathless forests wend, 

Armed with bow and ample quiver Lahjhman will on them attend, 
Where the wild deer range the forest and the lordly tuskers roam. 
And the bird of gorgeous plumage nestles in its jungle home. 

Dearer far to me those woodlands where my elder Rama dwells. 

Than the homes of bright Immortals where perennial bliss prevails! 
Grant me then thy sweet permission, — ^faithful to thy glorious star, 
Lakshman shall not wait and tarry when his Rama wanders far. 
Grant me then thy loving mandate, — ^Lakshman hath no wish to stay^, 
None shall bar the faithful younger when the elder leads the way!” 
“Ever true to deeds of virtue, duteous brother, faithful friend. 

Dearer than his life to Rama, thou shall not to forests wend. 

Who shall stay by Queen Kausalya, Lakshman, if we both depart, 
Who shall stay by Queen Sumitra, she who nursed thee on her heart? 
For the king our aged father, he who ruled the earth and mam. 

Is a captive to Kaikeyi, fettered by her silken chain. 

Little help Kaikeyi renders to our mothers in her pride. 

Little help can Bharat offer, standing by his mother’s side. 

Thou alone can’st serve Kausalya when for distant woods I part, 
When the memory of my exile rankles in her sorrowing heart. 

Thou alone can’st serve Sumitra, soothe her sorrows with thy love, 
Stay by them, my faithful Lakshman, and thy filial virtues prove, 

Be this then they sacred duty, tend our mothers in their woe, 

Little joy or consolation have they left on earth below!” 



INDIAN IMAGINATION 


170 

Spake the hero: “Fear no evil, well is Rama’s prowess known, 

And to mighty Rama’s mother Bharat will obeisance own, 

Nathless if the pride of empire sways him from the righteous path, 
Blood will venge the offered insult and will quench our filial wrath! 
But a thousand peopled hamlets Queen Kausalya’s bests obey, 

And a thousand armed champions own her high and queenly sway, 
Aye, a thousand village-centres Queen Sumitra’s state maintain, 

And a thousand swords like Lakshman’s guard her proud and prosper- 
ous reign! 

All alone with gentle Sita thou shalt track thy darksome way, 

Grant it, that thy faithful Lakshman shall protect her night and day, 
Grant it, with his bow and quiver Lakshman shall the forests roam, 
And his axe shall fell the jungle, and his hands shall rear the home! 
Grant it, in the deepest woodlands he shall seek the forest fruit. 

Berries dear to holy hermits and the sweet and luscious root. 

And when with thy meek-eyed Sita thou shalt seek the mountain crest, 
Grant it, Lakshman ever duteous watch and guard thy nightly rest!” 
Words of brother’s deep devotion Rama heard with grateful heart, 
And with Sita and with Lakshman for the woods prepared to part: 
“Part we then from loving kinsmen, arms and mighty weapons bring, 
Bows of war which Lord Varuna rendered to Videha’s king. 

Coats of mail to sword impervious, quivers which can never fail. 

And the rapiers bright as sunshine, golden-hilted, tempered well, 

Safely rest these goodly weapons in our great preceptor’s hall, 

Seek and bring them, faithful brother, for me thinks we need them all!” 
Rama spake; his valiant brother then the wondrous weapons brought. 
Wreathed with fresh and fragrant garlands and with gold and jewels 
wrought, 

“Welcome, brother,” uttered Rama, “stronger thus to woods we go, 
Wealth and gold and useless treasure to the holy priests bestow, 

To the son of saint Vasishtha, to each sage is honour due. 

Then we leave our father’s mansions, to our father’s mandate true!” 

Ill Mother's Blessings 

Tears of sorrow and of suffering flowed from Queen Kausalya’s eye, 

As she saw departing Sita for her blessings drawing nigh. 

And she clasped the gende Sita and she kissed her moistened head, 

And her tears like summer tempest choked the loving words she said: 



THE EPIC OF RAMA 


I7I 

“Part we, dear devoted daughter, to thy husband ever true. 

With a woman’s whole affection render love to husband’s due! 

False are women loved and cherished, gentle in their speech and word, 
When misfortune’s shadows gather, who are faithless to their lord. 
Who through years of sunny splendour smile and pass the livelong day, 
When misfortune’s darkness thickens, from their husband turn away, 
Who with changeful fortune changing oft ignore the plighted word, 
And forget a woman’s duty, woman’s faith to wedded lord, 

Who to holy love inconstant from their wedded consort part. 

Manly deed nor manly virtue wins the changeful woman’s heart! 

But the true and righteous woman, loving spouse and changeless wife, 
Faithful to her lord and consort holds him dearer than her life, 

Ever true and righteous Sita, follow still my godlike son, 

Like a God to thee is Rama in the woods or on the throne!” 

“I shall do my duty, mother,” said the wife with wifely pride, 

“Like a God to me is Rama, Sita shall not leave his side. 

From the Moon will part his lustre ere I part from wedded lord, 

Ere from faithful wife’s devotion falter in my deed or word. 

For the stringless lute is silent, idle is the wheel-less car. 

And no wife the loveless consort, inauspicious is her star! 

Small the measure of affection which the sire and brother prove. 
Measureless to wedded woman is her lord and husband’s love, 

True to Law and true to Scriptures, true to woman’s plighted word. 

Can I ever be, my mother, faithless, loveless to my lord?” 

Tears of joy and mingled sorrow filled the Queen Kausalya’s eye. 

As she marked the faithful Sita true in heart, in virtue high, 

And she wept the tears of sadness when with sweet obeisance due. 
Spake with hands in meekness folded Rama ever good and true: 
“Sorrow not, my loving mother, trust in virtue’s changeless beam. 

Swift will fly the years of exile like a brief and transient dream. 

Girt by faithful friends and forces, blest by righteous Gods above, 

Thou shalt see thy son returning to thy bosom and thy love!” 

Unto all the royal ladies Rama his obeisance paid. 

For his failings unremembered, blessings and forgiveness prayed. 

And his words were soft and gentle, and they wept to see him go, 

Like the piercing cry of curlew rose the piercing voice of woe, 

And in halls where drum and tabor rose in joy and regal pride, 

Voice of grief and lamentation sounded far and sounded wide! 



INDIAN IMAGINATION 


172 

Then the true and faithful Lakshman parted from each weeping dame. 
And to sorrowing Queen Sumitra with his due obeisance came, 

And he bowed to Queen Sumitra and his mother kissed his head, 

Stilled her anguish-laden bosom and m trembling accents said: 

‘'Dear devoted duteous Lakshman, ever to thy elder true, 

When thy elder wends to forest, forest-life to thee is due, 

Thou hast served him true and faithful in his glory and his fame. 

This is Law for true and righteous,— serve him in his woe and shame, 
This is Law for race of Raghu known on earth for holy might. 
Bounteous in their sacred duty, brave and warlike in the fight! 
Therefore tend him as thy father, as thy mother tend his wife, 

And to thee, like fair Ayodhya be thy humble forest life, 

Go, my son, the voice of Duty bids my gallant Lakshman go, 

Serve thy elder with devotion and with valour meet thy foe! 

IV Citizens' Lament 

Spake Sumantra chariot-driver waiting by the royal car, 

“Haste thee, mighty-destined Rama, for we wander long and far, 
Fourteen years m Dandak’s forest shall the righteous Rama stray. 

Such is Dasa-ratha’s mandate, haste thee Rama and obey.” 

Queenly Sita bright-apparelled, with a strong and trusting heart, 
Mounted on the car of splendour for the pathless woods to part, 

And the king for needs providing gave her robes and precious store. 
For the many years of exile in a far and unknown shore, 

And a wealth of warlike weapons to the exiled princes gave, 

Bow and dart and linked armour, sword and shield and lances brave. 
Then the gallant brothers mounted on the gold-emblazoned car. 

For unending was the journey and the wilderness was far, 

Skilled Sumantra saw them seated, urged the swiftly-flying steed, 

Faster than the speed of tempest was the noble coursers’ speed. 

And they parted for the forest; like a long unending night, 

Gloomy shades of grief and sadness deepened on the city’s might. 

Mute and dumb but conscious creatures felt the woe the city bore. 
Horses neighed and shook their bright bells, elephants returned a roar! 
Man and boy and maid and matron followed Rama with their eye, 

As the thirsty seek the water when the parched fields are dry, 

Clinging to the rapid chariot, by its side, before, behind. 

Thronging men and wailing women wept for Rama good and kind: 



THE EPIC OF RAMA 173 

‘‘Draw the reins, benign Sumantra, slowly drive the royal car, 

We would once more see our Rama, banished long and banished far, 
Iron-hearted is Kausalya from her Rama thus to part. 

Rends it not her mother’s bosom thus to see her son depart? 

True is righteous-hearted Sita cleaving to her husband still, 

As the ever present sunlight cleaves to Meru’s golden hill. 

Faithful and heroic Lakshman! thou hast by thy brother stood, 

And in duty still unchanging thou hast sought the pathless wood. 

Fixed in purpose, true in valour, mighty boon to thee is given. 

And the narrow path thou choosest is the righteous path to heaven!” 
Thus they spake in tears and anguish as they followed him apace. 

And their eyes were fixed on Rama, pride of Raghu’s royal race, 
Meanwhile ancient Dasa-ratha from his palace chamber came, 

With each weeping queen and consort, with each woe-distracted dame! 
And around the aged monarch rose the piercing voice of pain. 

Like the wail of forest creatures when the forest-king is slain. 

And the faint and feeble monarch was with age and anguish pale. 

Like the darkened moon at eclipse when his light and radiance fail! 
Rama saw his ancient father with a faltering footstep go, 

Used to royal pomp and splendour, stricken now by age and woe, 

Saw his mother faint and feeble to the speeding chariot hie. 

As the mother-cow returneth to her young that loiters by. 

Still she hastened to the chariot, “Rama! Rama!” was her cry. 

And a throb was in her bosom and a tear was in her eye! 

“Speed, Sumantra,” uttered Rama, “from this torture let me part. 

Speed, my friend, this sight of sadness breaks a much-enduring heart. 
Heed not Dasa-ratha’s mandate, stop not for the royal train, 

Parting slow is lengthened sorrow like the sinner’s lengthened pain!” 
Sad Sumantra urged the coursers and the rapid chariot flew. 

And the royal chiefs and courtiers round their fainting monarch drew. 
And they spake to Dasa-ratha: “Follow not thy banished son. 

He whom thou wouldst keep beside thee comes not till his task is done!” 
Dasa-ratha, faint and feeble, listened to these words of pain. 

Stood and saw his son departing, — ^saw him not on earth again! 

V Crossing the Tamasa: The Citizens* Return 

Evening’s thickening shades descended on Tamasa’s distant shore, 
Rama rested by the river, day of toilsome journey o’er. 



1^4 INDIAN IMAGINATION 

And Ayodhya’s loving people by the limpid river lay. 

Sad and sorrowing they had followed Rama’s chariot through the day! 
“Soft-eyed Sita, faithful Lakshman/’ thus the gentle Rama said, 

“Hail the first night of our exile mantling us in welcome shade, 

Weeps the lone and voiceless forest, and in darksome lair and nest, 
Feathered bird and forest creature seek their midnight’s wonted rest, 
Weeps methinks our fair Ayodhya to her Rama ever dear, 

And perchance her men and women shed for us a silent tear. 

Loyal men and faithful women, they have loved their ancient king. 
And his anguish and our exile will their gentle bosoms wring! 

Most I sorrow for my father and my mother loved and lost, 

Stricken by untimely anguish, by a cruel fortune crost, 

But the good and righteous Bharat gently will my parents tend, 

And with fond and filial duty tender consolation lend, 

Well I know his stainless bosom and his virtues rare and high, 

He will soothe our parents’ sorrow and their trickling tear will dry! 
Faithful Lakshman, thou hast nobly stood by us when sorrows fell. 
Guard my Sita by thy valour, by thy virtues tend her well, 

Wait on her while from this river Rama seeks his thirst to slake. 

On this first night of his exile food nor fruit shall Rama take, 

Thou Sumantra, tend the horses, darkness comes with close of day, 
Weary was the endless journey, weary is our onward way!” 

Store of grass and welcome fodder to the steeds the driver gave, 

Gave them rest and gave them water from Tamasa’s limpid wave, 

And performing night’s devotions, for the princes made their bed. 

By the softly rippling river ’neath the tree’s umbrageous shade. 

On a bed of leaf and verdure Rama and his Sita slept, 

Faithful Lakshman with Sumantra nighdy watch and vigils kept, 

And the stars their silent lustre on the weary exiles shed. 

And on wood and rolling river night her darksome mantle spread. 
Early woke the righteous Rama and to watchful Lakshman spake: 
“Mark the slumb’ring city people, still their nightly rest they take, 
They have left their homes and children, followed us with loyal heart. 
They would take us to Ayodhya, from their princes loth to part! 

Speed, my brother, for the people wake not till the morning’s star, 
Speed by night the silent chariot, we may travel fast and far. 

So my true and loving people see us not by dawn of day. 

Follow not through wood and jungle Rama in his onward way, 



THE EPIC OF RAMA 


175 


For a monarch meek in suffering should his burden bravely bear, 

And his true and faithful people may not ask his woe to share!” 
Lakshman heard the gentle mandate, and Sumantra yoked the steed, 
Fresh with rest and grateful fodder, matchless in their wondrous speed, 
Rama with his gentle consort and with Lakshman true and brave, 
Crossed beneath the silent starlight dark Tamasa’s limpid wave. 

On the farther bank a pathway, fair to view and far and wide, 
Stretching onwards to the forests spanned the spacious country-side, 
“Leave the broad and open pathway,” so the gentle Rama said, 

“Follow yet a track diverging, so the people be misled. 

Then returning to the pathway we shall march ere break of day, 

So our true and faithful people shall not know our southward way.” 
Wise Sumantra hastened northward, then returning to the road, 

By his master and his consort and the valiant Lakshman stood, 

Raghu’s sons and gentle Sita mounted on the stately car. 

And Sumantra drove the coursers travelling fast and travelling far. 
Morning dawned, the waking people by Tamasa’s limpid wave, 

Saw not Rama and his consort, saw not Lakshman young and brave. 
And the tear suffused their faces and their hearts with anguish burned. 
Sorrow-laden and lamenting to their cheerless homes returned. 

VI Crossing the Ganges, Bharad~V a'ja* s Hermitage 

Morning dawned, and far they wandered, by their people loved and lost, 
Drove through grove and flowering woodland, rippling rill and river 
crost, 

Crossed the sacred Vedasruti on their still unending way. 

Crossed the deep and rapid Gumti where the herds of cattle stray, 

All the toilsome day they travelled, evening fell o’er wood and lea. 

And they came where sea-like Ganga rolls in regal majesty, 

’Neath a tall Ingudi’s shadow by the river’s zephyrs blest. 

Second night of Rama’s exile passed in sleep and gentle rest. 

Morning dawned, the royal chariot Rama would no further own. 

Sent Sumantra and the coursers back to fair Ayodhya’s town. 

Doffing then their royal garments Rama and his brother bold 
Coats of bark and matted tresses wore like anchorites of old. 

Guha, chief of wild Nishadas, boat and needed succour gave^ 

And the princes and fair Sita ventured on the sacred wave. 



176 INDIAN IMAGINATION 

And by royal Rama bidden strong Nishadas plied the oar. 

And the strong boat quickly bounding left fair Ganga’s northern shore. 
‘‘Goddess of the mighty Ganga!” so the pious Sita prayed, 

“Exiled by his father’s mandate, Rama seeks the forest shade, 

Ganga! o’er the three worlds rolling, bride and empress of the sea. 

And from Brahma’s sphere descended! banished Sita bows to thee. 
May my lord return in safety, and a thousand fattened kme, 

Gold and gifts and gorgeous garments, pure libations shall be thine. 
And with flesh and corn I worship unseen dwellers on thy shore. 

May my lord return in safety, fourteen years of exile o’er!” 

On the southern shore they journeyed through the long and weary day, 
Still through grove and flowering woodland held their long and weary 
way, 

And they slayed the deer of jungle and they spread their rich repast. 
Third night of the princes’ exile underneath a tree was past. 

Morning dawned, the soft-eyed Sita wandered with the princes brave, 
To the spot where ruddy Ganga mingles with dark Jumna’s wave. 

And they crost the shady woodland, verdant lawn and grassy mead. 
Till the sun was in its zenith, Rama then to Lakshman said: 

“Yonder mark the famed Prayaga, spot revered from age to age. 

And the line of smoke ascending speaks some rishis hermitage, 

There the waves of ruddy Ganga with the dark blue Jumna meet. 

And my ear the sea-like voices of the mingling waters greet. 

Mark the monarchs of the forest severed by the hermit’s might, 

And the logs of wood and fuel for the sacrificial rite, 

Mark the tall trees in their blossom and the peaceful shady grove, 

There the sages make their dwelling, thither, Lakshman, let us rove.” 
Slowly came the exile-wand’rers, when the sun withdrew his rays. 

Where the vast and sea-like rivers met in sisters’ sweet embrace, 

And the asram's^ peaceful dwellers, bird of song and spotted deer, 
Quaked to see the princely strangers in their warlike garb appear! 

Rama stepped with valiant Lakshman, gentle Sita followed close, 

Till behind the screening foliage hermits’ peaceful dwellings rose, 

And they came to Bharad-vaja, anchorite and holy saint. 

Girt by true and faithful pupils on his sacred duty bent. 

Famed for rites and lofty penance was the anchorite of yore. 

Blest with more than mortal vision, deep in more than mortal lore, 

^ Hermitage, 



THE EPIC OF RAMA 


177 


And he sat beside the altar for the agnuhotra ^ rite, 

Rama spake in humble accents to the man of holy might: 

“We are sons of Dasa-ratha and to thee our homage bring. 

With my wife, the saintly Sita, daughter of Videha’s king, 

Exiled by my royal father in the wilderness I roam. 

And my wife and faithful brother make the pathless woods their home. 
We would through these years of exile in some holy asram dwell. 

And our food shall be the wild fruit and our drink from crystal well. 
We would practise pious penance still on sacred rites intent. 

Till our souls be filled with wisdom and our years of exile spent!” 
Pleased the ancient Bharad-vaja heard the prince’s humble tale, 

And with kind and courteous welcome royal strangers greeted well. 
And he brought the milk and arghya where the guests observant stood. 
Crystal water from the fountain, berries from the darksome wood. 

And a low and leafy cottage for their dwelling-place assigned. 

As a host receives a stranger, welcomed them with offerings kind. 

In the asram' s peaceful courtyard fearless browsed the jungle deer, 

All unharmed the bird of forest pecked the grain collected near. 

And by holy men surrounded ’neath the trees’ unbrageous shade, 

In his pure and peaceful accents rishi Bharad-vaja said: 

“Not unknown or unexpected, princely strangers, have ye come, 

I have heard of sinless Rama’s causeless banishment from home, 
Welcome to a hermit’s forest, be this spot your place of rest. 

Where the meeting of the rivers makes our sacred asram blest. 

Live amidst these peaceful woodlands, still on sacred rites intent 
Till your souls be filled with wisdom and your years of exile spent!” 
“Gracious are thy accents, rtsht'/ Rama answered thus the sage, 

“But fair towns and peopled hamlets border on this hermitage, 

And to see the banished Sita and to see us, much I fear, 

Crowds of rustics oft will trespass on thy calm devotions here. 

Far from towns and peopled hamlets, grant us, rishi, in thy grace, 

Some wild spot where hid in jungle we may pass these years in peace.” 
“Twenty miles from this Prayaga,” spake the rishi pond’ring well, 

“Is a lonely hill and jungle where some ancient hermits dwell, 
Chitra-kuta, Peak of Beauty, where the forest creatures stray. 

And in every bush and thicket herds of lightsome monkeys play. 

Men who view its towering summit are on lofty thoughts inclined. 
Earthly pride nor earthly passions cloud their pure and peaceful mind, 

^ Sacrifice to the fire with offering of milk. 



178 INDIAN IMAGINATION 

Hoary-headed ancient hermits, hundred autumns who have done, 

By their faith and lofty penance heaven’s eternal bliss have won, 

Holy is the fair seclusion for thy purpose suited well, 

Or if still thy heart inclineth, here in peace and comfort dwell!” 

Spake the nshi Bharad-vaja, and with every courteous rite, 

Cheered his guests with varied converse till the silent hours of night, 
Fourth night of the princes’ exile in Prayaga’s hermitage, 

Passed the brothers and fair Sita honoured by Prayaga’s Sage. 

Vll Crossing the Jumna — Valmi\is Hermitage 

Morning dawned, and faithful Sita with the brothers held her way, 
Where the dark and eddying waters of the sacred Jumna stray, 
Pondering by the rapid river long the thoughtful brothers stood. 

Then with stalwart arms and axes felled the sturdy jungle wood, 

Usira ^ of strongest fibre, slender bamboo smooth and plain, 

Jambu ^ branches intertwining with the bent and twisting cane, 

And a mighty raft constructed, and with creepers scented sweet, 
Lakshman for the gentle Sita made a soft and pleasant seat. 

Then the rustic bark was floated, framed with skill of woodman’s craft, 
By her loving lord supported Sita stepped upon the raft. 

And her raiments and apparel Rama by his consort laid. 

And the axes and the deerskins, bow and dart and shining blade. 

Then with stalwart arms the brothers plied the bending bamboo oar, 
And the strong raft gaily bounding left for Jumna’s southern shore, 
“Goddess of the glorious Jumna!” so the pious Sita prayed, 

“Peaceful be my husband’s exile in the forest’s darksome shade, 

May he safely reach Ayodhya, and a thousand fattened kine, 

Hundred jars of sweet libation, mighty Jumna, shall be thine, 

Grant that from the woods returning he may see his home again. 

Grant that honoured by his kinsmen he may rule his loving men!” 

On her breast her arms she folded while the princes plied the oar. 

And the bright bark bravely bounding reached the wooded southern 
shore. 

And the wanderers from Ayodhya on the river’s margin stood, 

Where the unknown realm extended mantled by unending wood. 
Gallant Lakshman with his weapons went before the path to clear, 
Soft-eyed Sita followed gently, Rama followed in the rear. 

^ A kind of hard wood. ^ Name of a tree. 



THE EPIC OF RAMA I79 

Oft from tree and darksome jungle, Lakshman ever true and brave, 
Plucked the fruit or smiling blossom and to gentle Sita gave, 

Oft to Rama turned his consort, pleased and curious evermore. 

Asked the name of tree or creeper, fruit or flower unseen before. 

Still with brotherly affection Lakshman brought each dewy spray, 

Bud or blossom of wild beauty from the woodland bright and gay, 

Still with eager joy and pleasure Sita turned her eye once more. 

Where the tuneful swans and suras'^ flocked on Jumna’s sandy shore. 
Two miles thus they walked and wandered and the belt of forest passed, 
Slew the wild deer of the jungle, spread on leaves their rich repast, 
Peacocks flew around them gaily, monkeys leaped on branches bent, 
Fifth night of their endless wanderings in the forest thus they spent. 
“Wake, my love, and list the warblings and the voices of the wood,” 
Thus spake Rama when the morning on the eastern mountains stood, 
Sita woke and gallant Lakshman, and they sipped the sacred wave, 

To the hill of Chitra-kuta held their way serene and brave. 

“Mark, my love,” so Ramu uttered, “every bush and tree and flower, 
Tinged by radiant light of morning sparkles in a golden shower, 

Mark the flaming flower of Kinsu\ and the Vilwa in its pride, 

Luscious fruits in wild profusion ample store of food provide, 

Mark the honeycombs suspended from each tall and stately tree. 

How from every virgin blossom steals her store the faithless bee! 

Oft the lone and startled wild cock sounds its clarion full and clear, 

And from flowering fragrant forests peacocks send the answering cheer^ 
Oft the elephant of jungle ranges in this darksome wood, 

For yon peak is Chitra-kuta loved by saints and hermits good. 

Oft the chanted songs of hermits echo through its sacred grove, 
Peaceful on its shady uplands, Sita, we shall live and rove!” 

Gently thus the princes wandered through the fair and woodland scene, 
Fruits and blossoms lit the branches, feathered songsters filled the green, 
Anchorites and ancient hermits lived in every sylvan grove, 

And a sweet and sacred stillness filled the woods with peace and love! 
Gently thus the princes wandered to the holy hermitage, 

Where in lofty contemplation lived the mighty Saint and Sage, 

Heaven inspired thy song, Valmiki! Ancient Bard of ancient day, 
Deeds of virtue and of valour live in thy undying lay! 

And the Bard received the princes with a father’s greetings kind, 

Bade them live in Chitra-kuta with a pure and peaceful mind, 

^ Sarasa the Indian crane. 



i8o 


INDIAN IMAGINATION 


To the true and faithful Lakshman, Rama then his purpose said, 

And of leaf and forest timber Lakshman soon a cottage made. 

“So our sacred Sastras^ sanction,” thus the righteous Rama spake, 
“Holy offering we should render when our dwelling-home we make, 
Slay the black buck, gallant Lakshman, and a sacrifice prepare, 

For the moment is auspicious and the day is bright and fair.” 

Lakshman slew a mighty black-buck, with the antlered trophy came. 
Placed the carcass consecrated by the altar’s blazing flame, 

Radiant round the mighty offering tongues of red fire curling shone. 
And the buck was duly roasted and the tender meat was done. 

Pure from bath, with sacred mantra Rama did the holy rite. 

And invoked the bright Immortals for to bless the dwelling site, 

To the kindly Viswa-devas, and to Rudra fierce and strong, 

And to Vishnu Lord of Creatures, Rama raised the sacred song. 
Righteous rite was duly rendered for the forest-dwelling made, 

And with true and deep devotion was the sacred mantra prayed. 

And the worship of the Bright Ones purified each earthly stain, 
Pure-souled Rama raised the altar and the chatty a* s ® sacred fane. 
Evening spread its holy stillness, bush and tree its magic felt, 

As the Gods in Brahma’s mansions, exiles in their cottage dwelt, 

In the woods of Chitra-kuta where the Malyavati flows, 

Sixth day of their weary wand’rings ended in a sweet repose. 

Vlll Tale of the Hermit's Son 

Wise Sumantra chariot-driver came from Ganga’s sacred wave. 

And unto Ayodhya’s monarch, banished Rama’s message gave, 
Dasa-ratha’s heart was shadowed by the deepening shade of night, 

As the darkness of the eclipse glooms the sun’s meridian light! 

On the sixth night, — when his Rama slept in Chitra-kuta’s bower, — 
Memory of an ancient sorrow flung on him its fatal power, 

Of an ancient crime and anguish, unforgotten, dark and dread. 
Through the lapse of years and seasons casting back its death-like shade! 
And the gloom of midnight deepened, Dasa-ratha sinking fast. 

To Kausalya sad and sorrowing spake his memories of the past: 

“Deeds we do in life, Kausalya, be they bitter, be they sweet, 

Bring their fruit and retribution, rich reward or suffering meet. 

^ Scnptures. ® A shnne or temple. 



THE EPIC OF RAMA 


l8l 


Heedless child is he, Kausalya, in his fate who doth not scan 
Retribution of his \armal sequence of a mighty plan! 

Oft in madness and in folly we destroy the mango grove, 

Plant the gorgeous gay palasa ^ for the red flower that we love, 
Fruitless as the red palasa is the \arma I have sown, 

And my barren lifetime withers through the deed which is my own! 
Listen to my tale, Kausalya, in my days of youth renowned, 

I was called a sabda-bedhi^ archer prince who shot by sound, 

I could hit the unseen target, by the sound my aim could tell, — 
Blindly drinks a child the poison, blindly in my pride I fell! 

I was then my father’s Regent, thou a maid to me unknown, 

Hunting by the fair Sarayu in my car I drove alone, 

Buffalo or jungle tusker might frequent the river’s brink, 

Nimble deer or watchful tiger stealing for his nightly drink, 

Stalking with a hunter’s patience, loitering in the forests drear, 

Sound of something in the water struck my keen and listening ear, 

In the dark I stood and listened, some wild beast the water drunk, 

’Tis some elephant, I pondered, lifting water with its trunk. 

I was called a sabda-bedhi, archer prince who shot by sound, 

On the unseen fancied tusker dealt a sure and deadly wound, 

Ah! too deadly was my arrow and like hissing cobra fell, 

On my startled ear and bosom smote a voice of human wail, 

Dying voice of lamentation rose upon the midnight high, 

Till my weapons fell in tremor and a darkness dimmed my eye! 
Hastening with a nameless terror soon I reached Sarayu’s shore, 

Saw a boy with hermit’s tresses, and his pitcher lay before. 

Weltering in a pool of red blood, lying on a gory bed. 

Feebly raised his voice the hermit, and in dying accents said: 

‘What offence, O mighty monarch, all-unknowing have I done, 

That with quick and kingly justice slayest thus a hermit’s son? 

Old and feeble are my parents, sightless by the will of fate, 

Thirsty in their humble cottage for their duteous boy they wait, 

And thy shaft that kills me, monarch, bids my ancient parents die, 
Helpless, friendless, they will perish, in their anguish deep and high! 
Sacred lore and lifelong penance change not mortal’s earthly state, 
Wherefore else they sit unconscious when their son is doomed by fate, 

^ A man’s deeds with their consequences m this or future life, 

® A tree bcarmg large, redr blossoms with no scent. 

® An archer who shoots by sound, not by sight of his object. 



i 82 


INDIAN IMAGINATION 


Or if conscious of my danger, could they dying breath recall, 

Can the tall tree save the sapling doomed by woodman’s axe to fall ? 
Hasten to my parents, monarch, soothe their sorrow and their ire. 

For the tears of good and righteous wither like the forest fire, 

Short the pathway to the asram, soon the cottage thou shalt see 
Soothe their anger by entreaty, ask their grace and pardon free! 

But before thou goest, monarch, take, O take thy torturing dart. 

For it rankles in my bosom with a cruel burning smart, 

And it eats into my young life as the river’s rolling tide 
By the rains of summer swollen eats into its yielding side.’ 

Writhing in his pain and anguish thus the wounded hermit cried. 

And I drew the fatal arrow, and the holy hermit died! 

Darkly fell the thickening shadows, stars their feeble radiance lent. 

As I filled the hermit’s pitcher, to his sightless parents went. 

Darkly fell the moonless midnight, deeper gloom my bosom rent. 

As with faint and falt’rmg footsteps to the hermits slow I went. 

Like two birds bereft of plumage, void of strength, deprived of flight. 
Were the stricken ancient hermits, friendless, helpless, void of sight. 
Lisping in their feeble accents still they whispered of their child. 

Of the stainless boy whose red blood Dasa-ratha’s hands defiled! 

And the father heard my footsteps, spake in accents soft and kind: 
‘Come, my son, to waiting parents, wherefore dost thou stay behind, 
Sporting in the rippling water didst thou midnight’s hour beguile. 

But thy faint and thirsting mother anxious waits for thee the while. 
Hath my heedless word or utterance caused thy boyish bosom smart. 
But a feeble father’s failings may not wound thy filial heart. 

Help of helpless, sight of sightless, and thy parents’ life and joy. 
Wherefore art thou mute and voiceless, speak, my brave and beauteous 
boy!’ 

Thus the sightless father welcomed cruel slayer of his son, 

And an anguish tore my bosom for the action I had done. 

Scarce upon the sonless parents could I lift my aching eye. 

Scarce in faint and faltering accents to the father make reply, 

For a tremor shook my person and my spirit sank in dread. 

Straining all my utmost prowess, thus in quavering voice I said: 

‘Not thy son, O holy hermit, but a Kshatra warrior born, 

Dasa-ratha stands before thee by a cruel anguish torn, 

For I came to slay the tusker by Sarayu’s wooded brink, 

Buffalo or deer of jungle stealing for his midnight drink, 



'The epic of rama 183 

And I heard a distant gurgle, some wild beast the water drunk,— 

So I thought,— some jungle tusker lifting water with its trunk, 

And I sent my fatal arrow on the unknown, unseen prey. 

Speeding to the spot I witnessed, — ^there a dying hermit lay! 

From his pierced and quivering bosom then the cruel dart I drew, 
And he sorrowed for his parents as his spirit heavenward flew, 

Thus unconscious, holy father, I have slayed thy stainless son. 

Speak my penance, or in mercy pardon deed unknowing done!' 

Slow and sadly by their bidding to the fatal spot I led, 

Long and loud bewailed the parents by the cold unconscious dead. 

And with hymns and holy water they performed the funeral rite. 

Then with tears that burnt and withered, spake the hermit in his might: 
* Sorrow for a son beloved is a father's direst woe. 

Sorrow for a son beloved, Dasa-ratha, thou shdt \now! 

See the parents weep and perish, grieving for a slaughtered son, 

Thou shalt weep and thou shalt perish for a loved and righteous son! 
Distant is the expiation, — but in fulness of the time, 

Dasa-ratha' s death in anguish cleanses Dasa-ratha' s crime!' 

Spake the old and sightless prophet; then he made the funeral pyre, 
And the father and the mother perished in the lighted fire, 

Years have gone and many seasons, and in fulness of the time. 

Comes the fruit of pride and folly and the harvest of my crime! 

Rama eldest born and dearest, Lakshman true and faithful son, 

Ah! forgive a dying father and a cruel action done. 

Queen Kaikeyi, thou hast heedless brought on Raghu’s race this stain, 
Banished are the guiltless children and thy lord and king is slain! 

Lay thy hands on mine, Kausalya, wipe thy unavailing tear. 

Speak a wife’s consoling accents to a dying husband’s ear, 

Lay thy hands on mine, Sumitra, vision falls my closing eyes. 

And for brave and banished Rama wings my spirit to the skies! 

Hushed and silent passed the midnight, feebly still the monarch sighed. 
Blessed Kausalya and Sumitra, blest his banished sons, and died. 

BOOK IV RAMA-BHARATA-SAMBADA 
{The Meeting of the Princes) 

The scene of this book is laid at Chitra-kuta. Bharat returning from the 
kingdom of the Kaikeyas heard of his father’s death and his brother’s 



INDIAN IMAGINATION 


184 

exile, and refused the throne which had been reserved for him. He wan- 
dered through the woods and jungle to Chitra-kuta, and implored Rama 
to return to Ayodhya and seat himself on the throne of his father. But 
Rama had given his word, and would not withdraw from it. 

Few passages m the Epic are more impressive than Rama’s wise and 
kindly advice to Bharat on the duties of a ruler, and his firm refusal to 
Bharat’s passionate appeal to seat himself on the throne. Equally touch- 
ing is the lament of Queen Kausalya when she meets Sita in the dress of 
an anchorite in the forest. 

But one of the most curious passages in the whole Epic is the speech of 
Jabali the Sceptic, who denied heaven and a world hereafter. In ancient 
India as in ancient Greece there were different schools of philosophers, 
some of them orthodox and some of them extremely heterodox, and the 
greatest latitude of free thought was permitted. In Jabali, the poet depicts 
a free-thinker of the broadest type. He ridicules the ideas of Duty and of 
Future Life with a force of reasoning which a Greek sophist and phi- 
losopher could not have surpassed. But Rama answers with the fervour 
of a righteous, truth-loving, God-fearing man. 

All persuasion was in vain, and Bharat returned to Ayodhya with 
Rama’s sandals, and placed them on the throne, as an emblem of Rama’s 
sovereignty during his voluntary exile. Rama himself then left Chitra- 
kuta and sought the deeper forests of Dandak, so that his friends and 
relations might not find him again during his exile. He visited the her- 
mitage of the Saint Atri; and the ancient and venerable wife of Atri 
welcomed the young Sita, and robed her in rich raiments and jewels, on 
the eve of her departure for the unexplored wildernesses of the south. 

The portions translated in this Book are the whole or the main portions 
of Sections xcix., c., ci., civ., cviii., cix., cxii., and cxix. of Book ii. of the 
original text. 


/ The Meeting of the Brothers 

Sorrowing for his sire departed Bharat to Ayodhya came, 

But the exile of his brother stung his noble heart to flame, 

Scorning sin-polluted empire, travelling with each widowed queen. 
Sought through wood and trackless jungle Chitra-kuta’s peaceful scene. 
Royal guards and Saint Vasishtha loitered with the dames behind. 
Onward pressed the eager Bharat, Rama’s hermit-home to find, 



THE EPIC OF RAMA 185 

Nestled in a jungle thicket, Rama’s cottage rose in sight, 

Thatched with leaves and twining branches, reared by Lakshman’s faith- 
ful might. 

Faggots hewn of gnarled branches, blossoms culled from bush and tree. 
Coats of bark and russet garments, \usa ^ spread upon the lea. 

Store of horns and branching antlers, fire-wood for the dewy night, — 
Spake the dwelling of a hermit suited for a hermit’s rite. 

''May the scene,” so Bharat uttered, "by the righteous nshi told, 
Markalvati’s rippling waters, Chitra-kuta’s summit bold, 

Mark the dark and trackless forest where the untamed tuskers roam, 
And the deep and hollow caverns where the wild beasts make their 
home, 

Mark the spacious wooded uplands, wreaths of smoke obscure the sky. 
Hermits feed their flaming altars for their worship pure and high. 

Done our weary work and wand’ring, righteous Rama here we meet. 
Saint and king and honoured elder! Bharat bows unto his feet, 

Born a king of many nations, he hath forest refuge sought. 

Yielded throne and mighty kingdom for a hermit’s humble cot, 

Honour unto righteous Rama, unto Sita true and bold. 

Theirs be fair Kosala’s empire, crown and sceptre, wealth and gold^” 
Stately Sal ^ and feathered palm-tree on the cottage lent their shade. 
Strewn upon the sacred altar was the grass of J^usa spread. 

Gaily on the walls suspended hung two bows of ample height. 

And their back with gold was pencilled, bright as Indra’s bow of might, 
Cased in broad unfailing quivers arrows shone like light of day, 

And like flame-tongued fiery serpents cast a dread and lurid ray. 
Resting in their golden scabbards lay the sword of warriors bold. 

And the targets broad and ample bossed with rings of yellow gold. 
Glove and gauntlet decked the cottage safe from fear of hostile men, 

As from creatures of the forest is the lion’s lordly den! 

Calm in silent contemplation by the altar’s sacred fire. 

Holy in his pious purpose though begirt by weapons dire. 

Clad in deer-skin pure and peaceful, poring on the sacred flame, 

In his bark and hermit’s tresses like an anchorite of fame, 
Lion-shouldered, mighty-armed, but with gentle lotus eye, 

Lord of Wxde earth ocean-girdled, but intent on penance high, 

Godlike as the holy Brahma, on a skin of dappled deer 
Rama sat with meek-eyed Sita, faithful Lakshman loitered near! 

^ Grass strewn around the altar at sacnfice. ® Sola, a tall forest tree. 



i86 


INDIAN IMAGINATION 


“Is this he whom joyous nations called to fair Ayodhya’s throne, 
Now the friend of forest-rangers wandering in the woods alone, 

Is this he who robed in purple made Ayodhya’s mansions bright, 
Now in jungle bark and deer-skin clad as holy anchorite. 

Is this he whose wreathed ringlets fresh and holy fragrance shed, 
Now a hermit’s matted tresses cluster round his royal head, 

Is this he whose royal yajnas filled the earth with righteous fame. 
Now inured to hermit’s labour by the altar’s sacred flame. 

Is this he whose brow and forehead royal gem and jewel graced, 
Heir to proud Kosala’s empire, eldest, noblest, and the best?” 

Thus lamented pious Bharat, for his heart was anguish-rent, 

As before the feet of Rama he in loving homage bent, 

'*Arya!” ^ in his choking accents this was all that Bharat said, 
"Aryar spake the young Satrughna and he bent his holy head! 
Rama to his loving bosom raised his brothers from his feet. 

Ah, too deep is love for utterance when divided brothers meet. 
Faithful Guha, brave Sumantra, bowed to Rama’s righteous feet, 
And a joy and mingled sadness filled the hermit’s calm retreat! 

II Bharafs Entreaty and Rama's^ Reply 

“Speak, my true, my faithful Bharat,” so the righteous Rama cried, 
“Wherefore to this jungle dwelling hast thou from Ayodhya hied, 
Speak, my fond and loving brother, if our father bade thee come, 
Leaving throne and spacious empire in this wilderness to roam? 
Heir and Regent of Kosala! Dost thou tend our father well. 

And obey the lofty mandate from his royal lips that fell. 

And the ancient Dasa-ratha, glorious still in regal might, 

Doth he pass his bright life’s evening in each pure and holy rite? 
Doth my mother, Queen Kausalya, still for Rama wet her eye, 

And the gentle Queen Sumitra for her banished Lakshman sigh. 
Doth the peerless Queen Kaikeyi pass her days in duties fair. 

Guard her Bharat’s mighty empire, tend him with a mother’s care? 
Is each holy rite and homage to the Gods and Fathers done, 

Is the honour due to elders rendered by each duteous son, 

Do thy warriors guard thy kingdom as of yore with matchless skill, 
And with counsel deep and duteous do thy min’sters serve thy will? 

^ Honorable person, an Aryan, 



THE EPIC OF RAMA 


187 


Rich thy fields in corn and produce fed by rivers broad and deep, 
Rich thy green unending pastures with the kine and fattened sheep, 
Tend the herdsman and his cattle, tend the tiller of the soil. 

Watch and help with all thy bounty workmen in their peaceful toil, 
For the monarch’s highest duty is to serve his people’s weal 
And the ruler’s richest glory is to labour and to heal! 

Guard thy forts with sleepless caution with the engines of the war. 
With the men who shoot the arrow and who drive the flying car. 
Guard Kosala’s royal treasure, make thy gifts of wealth and food. 
Not to lords and proud retainers, but to worthy and the good! 

Render justice pure and spotless as befits thy royal line, 

And to save the good and guiltless, Bharat, be it ever thine, 

For the tears of suffering virtue wither like the thunder levin. 

And they slay our men and cattle like the wrath of righteous heaven. 
Fruitful be thy lore of Veda, fruitful be each pious rite. 

Be thy queen a fruitful mother, be thy empire full of might!” 
Weeping, weeping, Bharat answered Dasa-ratha’s eldest son, 
“Dasa-ratha walks the bright sky, for his earthly task is done! 

For impelled by Queen Kaikeyi to the woods he bade thee go. 

And his spotless fame was clouded and his bosom sank in woe. 

And my mother, late repenting, weeps her deed of deepest shame, 
Weeps her wedded lord departed, and a woman’s tarnished fame! 
Thou alone canst wipe this insult by a deed of kindness done, — 

Rule o’er Dasa-ratha’s empire, Dasa-ratha’s eldest son. 

Weeping queens and loyal subjects supplicate thy noble grace, — 

Rule o’er Raghu’s ancient empire, son of Raghu’s royal race! 

For our ancient Law ordaineth and thy Duty makes it plain. 
Eldest-born succeeds his father as the king of earth and main, 

By the fair Earth loved and welcomed, Rama, be her wedded lord. 

As by planet-jewelled Midnight is the radiant Moon adored! 

And thy father’s ancient min’sters and thy courtiers faithful still. 
Wait to do thy righteous mandate and to serve thy royal will. 

As a pupil, as a brother, as a slave, I seek thy grace,— 

Come and rule thy father’s empire, king of Raghu’s royal race!” 
Weeping, on the feet of Rama, Bharat placed his lowly head. 
Weeping for his sire departed, tears of sorrow Rama shed, 

Then he raised his loving brother with an elder’s deathless love. 
Sorrow wakes our deepest kindness and our holiest feelings prove! 



i88 


INDIAN IMAGINATION 


“But I may not/* answered Rama, “seek Ayodhya’s ancient throne, 
For a righteous father’s mandate duteous son may not disown. 

And I may not, gentle brother, break the word of promise given. 

To a king and to a father who is now a saint in heaven! 

Not on thee, nor on thy mother, rests the censure or the blame. 
Faithful to his father’s wishes Rama to the forest came. 

For the son and duteous consort serve the father and the lord. 
Higher than an empire’s glory is a father’s spoken word! 

All inviolate is his mandate, — on Ayodhya’s jewelled throne, 

Or in pathless woods and jungle Rama shall his duty own, 

All inviolate is the blessing by a loving mother given. 

For she blessed my life in exile like a pitying saint of heaven! 

Thou shah rule the \tngdoin, Bharat, guard our loving people u/ell, 
Clad in wild bar\ and in deer^shin I shall in the forests dwell, 

So spa\e saintly Dasa-ratha in Ayodhya's palace hcdl. 

And a righteous father's mandate duteous son may not recalir' 

III Kausalya's Lament and Rama's Reply 

Slow and sad with Saint Vasishtha, with each widowed royal dame, 
Unto Rama’s hermit-cottage ancient Queen Kausalya came. 

And she saw him clad in wild bark like a hermit stern and high, 
And an anguish smote her bosom and a tear bedewed her eye. 
Rama bowed unto his mother and each elder’s blessings sought, 
Held their feet in salutation with a holy reverence fraught, 

And the queens with loving fingers, with a mother’s tender care. 
Swept the dust of wood and jungle from his head and bosom fair, 
Lakshman too in loving homage bent before each royal dame. 

And they blessed the faithful hero spotless in his righteous fame. 
Lastly came the soft-eyed Sita with obeisance soft and sweet. 

And with hands in meekness folded bent her tresses to their feet. 
Pain and anguish smote their bosoms, round their Sita as they prest. 
As a mother clasps a daughter, clasped her in their loving breast! 
Torn from royal hall and mansions, ranger of the darksome wood, 
Reft of home and kith and kindred by her forest hut she stood! 
“Hast thou, daughter of Videha,” weeping thus Kausalya said, 
“Dwelt in woods and leafy cottage and in pathless jungle strayed, 
Hast thou, Rama’s royal consort, lived a homeless anchorite, 

Pale with rigid fast and penance, worn with toil of righteous rite? 



THE EPIC OF RAMA 


189 


But thy sweet face, gentle Sita, is like faded lotus dry, 

And like lily parched by sunlight, lustreless thy beauteous eye. 

Like the gold untimely tarnished is thy sorrow-shaded brow. 

Like the moon by shadows darkened is thy form of beauty now! 

And an anguish scathes my bosom like the withering forest fire. 

Thus to see thee, duteous daughter, in misfortunes deep and dire, 

Dark is wide Kosala’s empire, dark is Raghu’s royal house, 

When in woods my Rama wanders and my Rama’s royal spouse!” 
Si4/eetly, gentle Sita answered, answered Rama fair and tall, 

That a righteous father's mandate duteous son may not recall! 

IV Jabah's Reasoning and Rama's Reply 

Jabali a learned Brahman and a Sophist skilled in word, 

Questioned Faith and Law and Duty, spake to young Ayodhya’s lord: 
“Wherefore, Rama, idle maxims cloud thy heart and warp thy mind, 
Maxims which mislead the simple and the thoughtless human kind ? 
Love nor friendship doth a mortal to his kith or kindred own, 

Entering on his wide earth friendless, and departing all alone. 

Foolishly upon the father and the mother dotes the son, 

Kinship is an idle fancy, — save thyself thy kith is none! 

In the wayside inn he halteth who in distant lands doth roam, 

Leaves it with the dawning daylight for another transient home. 

Thus on earth are kin and kindred, home and country, wealth and store, 
We but meet them on our journey, leave them as we pass before! 
Wherefore for a father’s mandate leave thy empire and thy throne, 

Pass thy days in trackless jungle sacrificing all thy own, 

Wherefore to i^odhya’s city, as to longing wife’s embrace, 

Spced’st thou not to rule thy empire, lord of Raghu’s royal race? 
Dasa-ratha claims no duty, and this will is empty word, 

View him as a foreign monarch, of thy realm thou art the lord, 
Dasa-ratha is departed, gone where all the mortals go, 

For a dead man’s idle mandate wherefore lead this life of woe? 

Ah! I weep for erring mortals who on erring duty bent 
Sacrifice their dear enjoyment till their barren life is spent. 

Who to Gods and to the Fathers vainly still their offerings make, 
Waste of food! for God nor Father doth our pious homage take! 

And the food by one partaken, can it nourish other men. 

Food bestowed upon a Brahman, can it serve our Fathers then? 



INDIAN IMAGINATION 


190 

Crafty priests have forged these maxims and with selfish objects say, 
Make thy gifts and do thy penance, leave thy worldly wealth and pray 
There is no Hereafter, Rama, vain the hope and creed of men, 

Seek the pleasures of the present, spurn illusions poor and vain, 

Take the course of sense and wisdom, cast all idle faith aside, 

Take the kingdom Bharat offers, rule Ayodhya in thy pride!” 

“Fair thy purpose,” answered Rama, “false thy reason leads astray, 
Tortuous wisdom brings no profit, virtue shuns the crooked way. 

For the deed proclaims the hero from the man of spacious lies, 

Marks the true and upright Ary a from the scheming worldly-wise! 

If assuming virtue’s mantle I should seek the sinful path, 

Gods who judge our secret motives curse me with their deepest wrath. 
And thy counsel helps not, rishi, mansions of the sky to win. 

And a king his subjects follow adding deeper sin to sin! 

Sweep aside thy crafty reasoning. Truth is still our ancient way, 

Truth sustains the earth and nations and a monarch’s righteous sway. 
Mighty Gods and holy sages find in Truth their haven shore. 
Scorning death and dark destruction. Truth survives for evermore! 
Deadlier than the serpent’s venom is the venom of a lie. 

From the false, than from the cobra, men with deeper terror fly. 
Dearer than the food to mortals. Truth as nourishment is given, 
Truth sustains the wide creation. Truth upholds the highest heaven. 
Vain were gifts and sacrifices, rigid penances were vain. 

Profitless the holy Vedas but for Truth which they sustain, 

Gifts and rites and rigid penance have no aim or purpose high. 

Save in Truth which rules the wide earth and the regions of the sky! 

I have plighted truth and promise and my word may not unsay, 
Fourteen years in pathless forests father’s mandate I obey, 

And I seek no spacious reasons my relinquished throne to win, 

Gods nor Fathers nor the Vedas counsel tortuous paths of sin! 

Pardon, rishi, still unchanging shall remain my promise given 
To my mother Queen Kaikeyi, to my father now in heaven, 

Pardon, risht, still in jungle we shall seek the forest fare. 

Worship Gods who watch our actions, and pervade the earth and air! 
Unto Agni, unto Vayu, shall my constant prayers run, 

I shall live like happy Indra, hundred sacrifices done. 

And the deep and dar\sotne jungle shall be Rama's royal hall, 

For a righteous father's mandate duteous son may not recall!" 



THE EPIC OF RAMA 


I9I 


V The Sandals 

Tears nor sighs nor sad entreaty Rama’s changeless purpose shook, 
Till once more with hands conjoined Bharat to his elder spoke: 

“Rama, true to royal mercy, true to duties of thy race, 

Grant this favour to thy mother, to thy brother grant this grace, 

Vain were my unaided efforts to protect our father’s throne, 

Town and hamlet, lord and tiller, turn to thee and thee alone! 

Unto Rama, friends and kinsmen, chiefs and warriors, turn in pain. 
And each city chief and elder, and each humble village swain. 

Base thy empire strong, unshaken, on a loyal nation’s will, 

With thy worth and with thy valour serve thy faithful people still!” 
Rama raised the prostrate Bharat to his ever-loving breast. 

And in voice of tuneful hansa ^ thus his gentle speech addrest : 

“Trust me, Bharat, lofty virtue, strength and will to thee belong. 

Thou could’st rule a worldwide empire in thy faith and purpose strong, 
And our father’s ancient min’sters, ever faithful, wise and deep, 

They shall help thee with their counsel and thy ancient frontiers keep. 
List! the Moon may lose his lustre, Himalaya lose his snow, 

Heaving Ocean pass his confines surging from the caves below, 

But the truth-abiding Rama will not move from promise given. 

He hath spoke and will not palter, help him righteous Gods in heaven!” 
Blazing like the Sun in splendour, beauteous like the Lord of Night, 
Rama vowed his Vow of Duty, changeless in his holy might! 

“Humble token,” answered Bharat, “still I seek from Rama’s hand. 
Token of his love and kindness, token of his high command. 

From thy feet cast forth those sandals, they shall decorate the throne, 
They shall nerve my heart to duty and shall safely guard thy own. 
They shall to a loyal nation absent monarch’s will proclaim, 

Watch the frontiers of the empire and the people’s homage claim!” 
Rama gave the loosened sandals as his younger humbly prayed, 

Bharat bowed to them in homage and his parting purpose said ; 

“Not alone will banished Rama barks and matted tresses wear, 
Fourteen years the crowned Bharat will in hermit’s dress appear, 
Henceforth Bharat dwells in palace guised as hermit of the wood. 

In the sumptuous hall of feasting wild fruit is his only food. 

Fourteen years shall pass in waiting, weary toil and penance dire 
Then, if Rama comes not living, Bharat dies upon the pyre!” 

^ Swan or goose. 



192 


INDIAN IMAGINATION 


VI The Hermitage of Atri 

With the sandals o£ his elder Bharat to Ayodhya went, 

Rama sought for deeper forests on his arduous duty bent, 

Wandering with- his wife and Lakshman slowly sought the hermitage, 
Where resided saintly Atri, Vedic Bard and ancient sage. 

Anasuya, wife of Atri, votaress of Gods above. 

Welcomed Sita in her cottage, tended her with mother’s love. 

Gave her robe and holy garland, jewelled ring and chain of gold, 
Heard the tale of love and sadness which the soft-eyed Sita told: 

How the monarch of Videha held the plough and tilled the earth, 
From the furrow made by ploughshare infant Sita sprang to birth, 
How the monarch of Videha welcomed kings of worth and pride, 
Rama ’midst the gathered monarchs broke the bow and won the bride, 
How by Queen Kaikeyi’s mandate Rama lost his father’s throne, 

Sita followed him in exile in the forest dark and lone! 

Softly from the lips of Sita words of ]oy and sorrow fell. 

And the pure-souled pious priestess wept to hear the tender tale. 

And she kissed her on the forehead, held her on her ancient breast. 
And in mother’s tender accents thus her gentle thoughts exprest: 
“Sweet the tale you tell me, Sita, of thy wedding and thy love, 

Of the true and tender Rama, righteous as the Gods above. 

And thy wifely deep devotion fills my heart with purpose high. 

Stay with us my gentle daughter for the night shades gather nigh. 
Hastening from each distant region feathered songsters seek their nest, 
Twitter in the leafy thickets ere they seek their nightly rest. 

Hastening from their pure ablutions with their pitcher smooth and fair, 
In their dripping barks the hermits to their evening rites repair, 

And in sacred agni-hotra^ holy anchorites engage, 

And a wreath of smoke ascending marks the altar of each sage. 

Now a deeper shadow mantles bush and brake and trees around, 

And a thick and inky darkness falls upon the distant ground. 

Midnight prowlers of the jungle steal beneath the sable shade. 

But the tame deer by the altar seeks his wonted nightly bed. 

Mark! how by the stars encircled sails the radiant Lord of Night, 
With his train of silver glory streaming o’er the azure height. 

And thy consort waits thee, Sita, but before thou leavest, fair. 

Let me deck thy brow and bosom with these jewels rich and rare, , 

^ A sacrifice to the fire with daily offering of milk morning and cvenmg. 



THE EPIC OF RAMA 


193 


Old these eyes and grey these tresses, but a thrill of joy is mine, 

Thus to see thy youth and beauty in this gorgeous garment shine!” 
Pleased at heart the ancient priestess clad her in apparel meet, 

And the young wife glad and grateful bowed to Anasuya’s feet. 
Robed and jewelled, bright and beauteous, sweet-eyed Sita softly came, 
Where with anxious heart awaited Rama prince of righteous fame. 
With a wifely love and longing Sita met her hero bold, 

Anasuya’s love and kindness in her grateful accents told, 

Rama and his brother listened of the grace by Sita gained, 

Favours of the ancient priestess, pious blessings she had rained. 

In the risMs peaceful asram Rama passed the sacred night, 

In the hushed and silent forest silvered by the moon’s pale light, 
Daylight dawned, to deeper forests Rama went serene and proud, 

As the sun in midday splendour sinks within a bank of cloud! 


BOOKV PANCHAVATI 
{ On the Ban\s of the Godavari ) 

The wanderings of Rama in the Deccan, his meeting with Saint 
Agastya, and his residence on the banks of the Godavari river, are 
narrated in this Book. The reader has now left Northern India and 
crossed the Vindhya mountains; and the scene of the present and suc- 
ceeding five Books is laid in the Deccan and Southern India. The name 
of Agastya is connected with the Deccan, and many are the legends told 
of this great Saint, before whom the Vindhya mountains bent in awe, 
and by whose might the Southern ocean was drained. It is likely that 
some religious teacher of that name first penetrated beyond the Vind- 
hyas, and founded the first Aryan settlement in the Deccan, three 
thousand years ago. He was pioneer, discoverer and settler, — the Indian 
Columbus who opened out Southern India to Aryan colonization and 
Aryan religion. 

Two yo-janas^ from Agastya’s hermitage, Rama built his forest dwell- 
ing in the woods of Panchavati, near the sources of the Godavari river, 
and within a hundred miles from the modern city of Bombay. There he 
lived with his wife and brother in peace and piety, and the Book closes 
with the description of an Indian winter morning, when the brothers 
and Sita went for their ablutions to the Godavari, and thought of their 
^ A yojana is about rune English miles. 



INDIAN IMAGINATION 


194 

distant home in Oudh. The description of the peaceful forest-life of the 
exiles comes in most appropriately on the eve of stirring events which 
immediately succeed, and which give a new turn to the story of the 
Epic. We now stand therefore at the turning point of the poet’s narra- 
tive; he has sung of domestic incidents and of peaceful hermitages so 
far; he sings of dissensions and wars hereafter. 

The portions translated in this Book form Sections i., xii., xiii., xv., 
and xvi. of Book 111. of the original text. 

7 The Hermitage of Agastya 

Righteous Rama, soft-eyed Sita, and the gallant Lakshman stood 
In the wilderness of Dandak, — trackless, pathless, boundless wood, 
But within its gloomy gorges, dark and deep and known to few, 
Humble homes of hermit sages rose before the princes’ view. 

Coats of bark and scattered l^sa spake their peaceful pure abode, 

Seat of pious rite and penance which with holy splendour glowed. 
Forest songsters knew the asram and the wild deer cropt its blade. 

And the sweet-voiced sylvan wood-nymph haunted oft its holy shade, 
Brightly blazed the sacred altar, vase and ladle stood around. 

Fruit and blossom, skin and faggot, sanctified the holy ground. 

From the broad and bending branches ripening fruits in clusters hung, 
And with gifts and rich libations hermits raised the ancient song, 
Lotus and the virgin lily danced upon the rippling rill. 

And the golden sunlight glittered on the greenwoods calm and still, 
And the consecrated woodland by the holy hermits trod, 

Shone like Brahma’s sky in lustre, hallowed by the grace of God! 

Rama loosened there his bow-string and the peaceful scene surveyed. 
And the holy sages welcomed wanderers in the forest shade, 

Rama bright as Lord of Midnight, Sita with her saintly face, 

Lakshman young and true and valiant, decked with warrior’s peerless 
grace! 

Leafy hut the holy sages to the royal guests assigned. 

Brought them fruit and forest blossoms, blessed them with their bless, 
ings kind, 

“Raghu’s son,” thus spake the sages, ‘'helper of each holy rite, 

Portion of the royal Indr a, fount of justice and of might. 

On thy throne or in the forest, king of nations, lord of men, 

Grant us to thy kind protection in this hermit’s lonely den!” 



THE EPIC OF RAMA 


195 


Homely fare and jungle produce were before the princes laid, 

And the toil-worn, tender Sita slumbered in the asrams shade. 

Thus from grove to grove they wandered, to each haunt of holy sage, 
Sarabhanga’s sacred dwelling and Sutikshna’s hermitage. 

Till they met the Saint Agastya, mightiest Saint of olden time. 
Harbinger of holy culture in the wilds of Southern clime! 

“Eldest born of Dasa-ratha, long and far hath Rama strayed,” — 

Thus to pupil of Agastya young and gallant Lakshman said, — 

“With his faithful consort Sita in these wilds he wanders still, 

I am righteous Rama’s younger, duteous to his royal will. 

And we pass these years of exile to our father’s mandate true, 

Fain to mighty Saint Agastya we would render homage due!” 
Listening to his words the hermit sought the shrine of Sacred Fire, 
Spake the message of the princes to the Saint and ancient Sire: 
“Righteous Rama, valiant Lakshman, saintly Sita seeks this shade, 
And to see thee, radiant rishi, have in humble accents prayed.” 

“Hath he come,” so spake Agastya, “Rama prince of Raghu’s race, 
Youth for whom this heart hath thirsted, youth endued with righteous 
grace, 

Hath he come with wife and brother to accept our greetings kind, 
Wherefore came ye for permission, wherefore linger they behind?” 
Rama and the soft-eyed Sita were with gallant Lakshman led, 

Where the dun deer free and fearless roamed within the holy shade, 
Where the shrines of great Immortals stood in order thick and close. 
And by bright and blazing altars chanted songs and hymns arose. 
Brahma and the flaming Agni, Vishnu lord of heavenly light, 

Indra and benign Vivas at ruler of the azure height, 

SoMA and the radiant Bhaga, and Kuvera lord of gold. 

And Vidhatri great Creator worshipped by the saints of old, 

Vayu breath of living creatures. Yam a monarch of the dead, 

And Varuna with his fetters which the trembling sinners dread, 

Holy Spirit of Gayatri goddess of the morning prayer, 

Vasus and the hooded Nagas, golden-winged Garuda fair, 

Karitkeya heavenly leader strong to conquer and to bless, 

Dharma god of human duty and of human righteousness, 

Shrines of all these bright Immortals ruling in the skies above. 

Filled the pure and peaceful forest with a calm and holy love! 

Girt by hermits righteous-hearted then the Saint Agastya came, 

Rich in wealth of pious penance, rich in learning and in fame, 



196 INDIAN IMAGINATION 

Mighty-armed Rama marked him radiant like the midday sun, 

Bowed and rendered due obeisance with each act of homage done, 
Valiant Lakshman tall and stately to the great Agastya bent, 

With a woman’s soft devotion Sita bowed unto the saint. 

Saint Agastya raised the princes, greeted them in accents sweet, 

Gave them fruit and herb and water, offered them the honoured seat, 
With libations unto Agni offered welcome to each guest. 

Food and drink beseeming hermits on the wearied princes pressed. 
“False the hermits,” spake Agastya, “who to guests their dues deny, 
Hunger they in life hereafter — ^like the speaker of a lie. 

And a royal guest and wanderer doth our foremost honour claim, 
Car-borne kings protect the wide earth by their prowess and their fame, 
By these fruits and forest blossoms be our humble homage shewn. 

By some gift, of Rama worthy, be Agastya’s blessings known I 
Take this bow, heroic Rama, — need for warlike arms is thine, — 

Gems of more than earthly radiance on the goodly weapon shine. 
Worshipper of righteous Vishnu! Vishnu’s wondrous weapon take, 
Heavenly artist Viswa-karman shaped this bow of heavenly make! 
Take this shining dart of Brahma radiant like a tongue of flame. 

Sped by good and worthy archer never shall it miss its aim, 

And this Indra’s sample quiver filled with arrows true and keen, 

Filled with arrows still unfailing in the battle’s dreadful scene! 

Take this sabre golden-hilted in its case of burnished gold, 

Not unworthy of a monarch and a warrior true and bold. 

Impious foes of bright Immortals know these weapons dread and dire, 
Mowing down the ranks of foemen, scathing like the forest fire! 

Be these weapons thy companions, — Rama thou shall need them oft , — 
Meet and conquer still thy foemen li\e the Thunder-God aloft r 

II The Counsel of Agastya 

“Pleased am I,” so spake Agastya, “in these forests dark and wild. 
Thou hast come to seek me, Rama, with the saintly Janak’s child. 

But like pale and drooping blossoms severed from the parent tree. 

Far from home in toil and trouble, faithful Sita follows thee. 

True to wedded lord and husband she hath followed Raghu’s son, 

With a woman’s deep devotion woman’s duty she hath done! 

How unlike the fickle woman, true while Fame and Fortune smile, 
Faithless when misfortunes gather, loveless in her wicked wile, 



THE EPIC OF RAMA I97 

How unlike the changeful woman, false as light the lightnings fling, 
Keen as sabre, quick as tempest, swift as bird upon its wing! 

Dead to Fortune’s frown or favour, Sita still in truth abides. 

As the star of Arundhati in her mansion still resides,- 

Rest thee with thy gentle consort, farther still she may not roam. 

Holier were this hermit’s forest as the saintly Sita’s home!” 

“Great Agastya!” answered Rama, “blessed is my banished life. 

For thy kindness to an exile and his friendless homeless wife, 

But in wilder, gloomier forests lonesome we must wander still. 
Where a deeper, darker shadow settles on the rock and rill.” 

“Be It so,” Agastya answered, “two short yojans from this place. 
Wild IS Panchavati’s forest where unseen the wild deer race, 
Godavari’s limped waters through its gloomy gorges flow. 

Fruit and root and luscious berries on its silent margin grow, 

Seek that spot and with thy brother build a lonesome leafy home. 
Tend thy true and toil-worn Sita, farther still she may not roam! 

Not unknown to me the mandate by thy royal father given. 

Not unseen thy endless wanderings destined by the will of Heaven, 
Therefore Panchavati’s forest marked I for thy woodland stay. 
Where the ripening wild fruit clusters and the wild bird trills his lay, 
Tend thy dear devoted Sita and protect each pious rite. 

Matchless in thy warlike weapons peerless in thy princely might! 
Mark yon gloomy Mahua forest stretching o’er the boundless lea. 
Pass that wood and turning northward seek an old Nyagrodha tree, 
Then ascend a sloping upland by a steep and lofty hill. 

Thou shalt enter Panchavati, blossom-covered, calm and still!” 
Bowing to the great Agastya, Rama left the mighty sage. 

Bowing to each saint and hermit, Lakshman left the hermitage. 

And the princes tall and stately marched where Panchavati lay, 
Sofl-eyed Sita followed meekly where her Rama led the way! 

Ill The Forest of Panchavati 

Godavari’s limpid waters in her gloomy gorges strayed. 

Unseen rangers of the jungle nestled in the darksome shade! 

“Mark the woodlands,” uttered Rama, “by the Saint Agastya told, 
Panchavati’s lonesome forest with its blossoms red and gold. 

Skilled to scan the wood and jungle, Lakshman, cast thy eye around, 
For our humble home and dwelling seek a low and level ground, 



ipS INDIAN IMAGINATION 

Where the river laves its margin with a soft and gentle kiss, 

Where my sweet and soft-eyed Sita may repose in sylvan bliss, 

Where the lawn is fresh and verdant and the \usa young and bright, 
And the creeper yields her blossoms for our sacrificial rite.” 

“Little can I help thee, brother,” did the duteous Lakshman say, 
“Thou art prompt to judge and fathom, Lakshman listens to obey!” 
“Mark this spot,” so answered Rama, leading Lakshman by the hand, 
“Soft the lawn of verdant \usa, beauteous blossoms light the land, 
Mark the smiling lake of lotus gleaming with a radiance fair, 

Wafting fresh and gentle fragrance o’er the rich and laden air, 

Mark each scented shrub and creeper bending o’er the lucid wave. 
Where the bank with soft caresses Godavari’s waters lave! 

Tuneful ducks frequent this margin, Cha\rava\as'^ breathe of love, 
And the timid deer of jungle browse within the shady grove. 

And the valleys are resonant with the peacock’s clarion cry. 

And the trees with budding blossoms glitter on the mountains high, 
And the rocks in well-marked strata in their glittering lines appear. 
Like the streaks of white and crimson painted on our tuskers fair! 
Stately Sal and feathered palm-tree guard this darksome forest-land, 
Golden date and flowering mango stretch afar on either hand, 

Aso\ thrives and blazing Ktnsu\, Chandan wafts a fragrance rare, 
Aswa-\arna and Khadtra by the Sami dark and fair, 

Beauteous spot for hermit-dwelling joyous with the voice of song, 
Haunted by the timid wild deer and by black buck fleet and strong!” 
Foe-compelling faithful Lakshman heard the words his elder said. 

And by sturdy toil and labour stately home and dwelling made. 
Spacious was the leafy cottage walled with moistened earth and soft, 
Pillared with the stately bamboo holding high the roof aloft. 

Interlacing twigs and branches, corded from the ridge to eaves, 

Held the thatch of reed and branches and of jungle grass and leaveS, 
And the floor was pressed and levelled and the toilsome task was done. 
And the structure rose in beauty for the righteous Raghu’s son! 

To the river for ablutions Lakshman went of warlike fame, 

With a store of fragrant lotus and of luscious berries came, 

Sacrificing to the Bright Gods sacred hymns and mantras said, 

Proudly then unto his elder shewed the home his hand had made. 

In her soft and grateful accents gentle Sita praised his skill. 

Praised a brother’s loving labour, praised a hero’s dauntless will, 

^ The male and female geese, as symbols of conjugal love. 



THE EPIC OF RAMA 


199 


Rama clasped his faithful Lakshman in a brother’s fond embrace, 
Spake in sweet and kindly accents with an elder’s loving grace : 

*‘How can Rama, homeless wand’rer, priceless love like thine requite. 
Let him hold thee in his bosom, soul of love and arm of might. 

And our father good and gracious, in a righteous son like thee. 

Lives again and treads the bright earth, from the bonds of Yama free!” 
Thus spake Rama, and with Lakshman and with Sita child of love. 
Dwelt in Panchavati’s cottage as the Bright Gods dwell above! 

IV Winter in Panchavati 

Came and passed the golden autumn in the forest’s gloomy shade, 

And the northern blasts of winter swept along the silent glade. 

When the chilly night was over, once at morn the prince of fame, 

For his morning’s pure ablutions to the Godavari came. 

Meek-eyed Sita softly followed with the pitcher in her arms, 

Gallant Lakshman spake to Rama of the Indian winter’s charms: 
'‘Comes the bright and bracing winter to the royal Rama dear. 

Like a bride the beauteous season doth in richest robes appear. 

Frosty air and freshening zephyrs wake to life each mart and plain. 
And the corn in dewdrop sparkling makes a sea of waving green. 

But the village maid and matron shun the freezing river’s shore. 

By the fire the village elder tells the stirring tale of yore! 

With the winter’s ample harvest men perform each pious rite, 

To the Fathers long departed, to the Gods of holy might. 

With the rite of agrayana^ pious men their sins dispel, 

And with gay and sweet observance songs of love the women tell, 

And the monarchs bent on conquest mark the winter’s cloudless glow, 
Lead their bannered cars and forces ’gainst the rival and the foe! 
Southward rolls the solar chariot, and the cold and widowed North 
Reft of 'bridal mark’ and joyance coldly sighs her sorrows forth. 
Southward rolls the solar chariot, Himalaya, ‘home of snow,’ 

True to name and appellation doth in whiter garments glow. 
Southward rolls the solar chariot, cold and crisp the frosty air. 

And the wood of flower dismantled doth in russet robes appear! 

Star of Pushya rules December and the night with rime is hoar. 

And beneath the starry welkin in the woods we sleep no more, 

^ Tbe harvest fcistival, with offenngs of new gram. 



200 


INDIAN IMAGINATION 


And the pale moon mist-enshrouded sheds a faint and feeble beam. 

As the breath obscures the mirror, winter mist obscures her gleam. 
Hidden by the rising vapour faint she glistens on the dale. 

Like our sun-embrowned Sita with her toil and penance pale! 

Sweeping blasts from western mountains through the gorges whistle by 
And the saras and the curlew raise their shrill and piercing cry. 
Boundless fields of wheat and barley are with dewdrops moist and wet. 
And the golden rice of winter ripens like the clustering date, 

Peopled marts and rural hamlets wake to life and cheerful toil, 

And the peaceful happy nations prosper on their fertile soil! 

Mark the sun in morning vapours — like the moon subdued and pale — 
Brightening as the day advances piercing through the darksome veil, 
Mark his gay and golden lustre sparkUng o’er the dewy lea, 

Mantling hill and field and forest, painting bush and leaf and tree, 
Mark it glisten on the green grass, on each bright and bending blade. 
Lighten up the long-drawn vista, shooting through the gloomy glade! 
Thirst-impelled the lordly tusker still avoids the freezing drink. 

Wild duck and the tuneful hansa doubtful watch the river’s brink. 
From the rivers wrapped in vapour unseen cries the wild curlew, 
Unseen rolls the misty streamlet o’er its sandbank soaked in dew, 

And the drooping water-lily bends her head beneath the frost. 

Lost her fresh and fragrant beauty and her tender petals lost! 

Now my errant fancy wanders to Ayodhya’s distant town, 

Where in hermit’s barks and tresses Bharat wears the royal crown. 
Scorning regal state and splendour, spurning pleasures loved of yore, 
Spends his winter day in penance, sleeps at night upon the floor. 

Aye! perchance Sarayu’s waters seeks he now, serene and brave, 

As we seek, when dawns the daylight, Godavari’s limpid wave! 

Rich of hue, with eye of lotus, truthful, faithful, strong of mind, 

For the love he bears thee, Rama, spurns each joy of baser kind, 

‘False he proves unto his father who is led by mother’s wile,’ — 

Vain this ancient impious adage — Bharat spurns his mother’s guile, 
Bharat’s mother Queen Kaikeyi, Dasa-ratha’s royal spouse. 

Deep in craft, hath brought disaster on Ayodhya’s royal house!” 

“Speak not thus,” so Rama answered, “on Kaikeyi cast no blame. 
Honour still the righteous Bharat, honour still the royal dame. 

Fixed in purpose and unchanging still in jungle wilds I roam. 

But thy accents, geatk Lakshman? wake a longing for my home! 



THE EPIC OF RAMA 


201 


And my loving mem’ry lingers on each word from Bharat fell, 
S^veeter than the draught of nectar, purer than the crystal well. 

And my righteous purpose falters, shaken by a brother’s love. 

May we meet again our brother, if it please the Gods above!” 

Waked by love, a silent tear-drop fell on Godavari’s wave. 

True once more to righteous purpose Rama’s heart was calm and brave, 
Rama plunged into the river ’neath the morning’s crimson beam, 

Sita softly sought the waters as the lily seeks the stream, 

And they prayed to Gods and Fathers with each rite and duty done, 
And they sang the ancient mantra to the red and rising Sun, 

With her lord, in loosened tresses Sita to her cottage came, 

As with Rudra wanders Uma in Kailasa’s hill of fame! 


BOOK VI SITA-HARANA 
( Sita Lost ) 

We exchange the quiet life of Rama in holy hermitages for the more 
stirring incidents of the Epic in this Book. The love of a Raksha princess 
for Rama and for Lakshman is rejected with scorn, and smarting under 
insult and punishment she fires her brother Ravan, the king of Ceylon, 
with a thirst for vengeance. The dwellers of Ceylon are described in 
the Epic as monsters of various forms, and able to assume different 
shapes at will. Ravan sends Maricha in the shape of a beautiful deer to 
tempt away Rama and Lakshman from the cottage, and then finds his 
chance for stealing away the unprotected Sita. 

The misfortunes of our lives, according to Indian thinkers, are but 
the results of our misdeeds; calamities are brought about by our sins. 
And thus we find in the Indian Epic, that a dark and foul suspicion 
against Lakshman crossed the stainless mind of Sita, and words of 
unmerited insult fell from her gentle lips, on the eve of the great 
calamity which clouded her life ever after. It was the only occasion on 
which the ideal woman of the Epic harboured an unjust thought or 
spoke an angry word; and it was followed by a tragic fate which few 
women on earth have suffered. To the millions of men and women in 
India, Sita remains to this day the ideal of female love and female 
devotion; her dark suspicions against Lakshman sprang out of an 
excess of her affection for her husband; and her tragic fate and long 
trial proved that undying love. 



202 


INDIAN IMAGINATION 


The portions translated in this Book form the whole or the main por- 
tions of Sections xvii., xviii., xliii., xlv., xlvi., xlvii., and xlix. of Book iii. 
of the original text. 


I Surpa-na\ha in Love 

As the Moon with starry Chitra dwells in azure skies above, 

In his lonesome leafy cottage Rama dwelt in Sita’s love, 

And with Lakshman strong and valiant, quick to labour and obey. 
Talcs of bygone times recounting Rama passed the livelong day. 

And it so befell, a maiden, dweller of the darksome wood. 

Led by wand’ring thought or fancy once before the cottage stood, 
Surpa-nakha, Raksha maiden, sister of the Raksha lord. 

Came and looked with eager longing till her soul was passion-stirred! 
Looked on Rama lion-chested, mighty-armed, lotus-eyed. 

Stately as the jungle tusker, with his crown of tresses tied. 

Looked on Rama lofty-fronted, with a royal visage graced. 

Like Kandarpa young and lustrous, lotus-hued and lotus-faced! 

What though she a Raksha maiden, poor in beauty plain in face. 

Fell her glances passion-laden on the prince of peerless grace, 

What though wild her eyes and tresses, and her accents counselled fear, 
Soft-eyed Rama fired her bosom, and his sweet voice thrilled her ear. 
What though bent on deeds unholy, holy Rama won her heart, 

And, for love makes bold a female, thus did she her thoughts impart: 
“Who be thou in hermit’s vestments, in thy native beauty bright. 
Friended by a youthtful woman, armed with thy bow of might. 

Who be thou in these lone regions where the Rakshas hold their sway. 
Wherefore in a lonely cottage in this darksome jungle stay?” 

With his wonted truth and candour Rama spake sedate and bold, 

And the story of his exile to the Raksha maiden told: 

“Dasa-ratha of Ayodhya ruled with Indra’s godlike fame. 

And his eldest, first-born Rama, by his mandate here I came. 

Younger Lakshman strong and valiant doth with me these forests roam. 
And my wife, Videha’s daughter, Sita makes with me her home. 
Duteous to my father’s bidding, duteous to my mother’s will, 

Striving in the cause of virtue in the woods we wander still. 

Tell me, female of the forest, who thou be and whence thy birth, 
Much I fear thou art a Raksha wearing various forms on earth!” 



THE EPIC OF RAMA 203 

“Listen,” so spake Surpa-nakha, “if my purpose thou wouldst know, 

I am Raksha, Surpa-nakha, wearing various shapes below, 

Know my brothers, royal Ravan, Lanka’s lord from days of old, 
Kumbha-karna dread and dauntless, and Bibhishan true and bold, 
Khara and the doughty Dushan with me in these forests stray, 

But by Rama’s love emboldened I have left them on the way! 

Broad and boundless is my empire and I wander in my pride. 

Thee I choose as lord and husband, — cast thy human wife aside, 

Pale is Sita and misshapen, scarce a warrior’s worthy wife. 

To a nobler, lordlier female consecrate thy gallant life! 

Human flesh is food of Rakshas! weakling Sita I will slay. 

Slay that boy the stripling brother, — ^thee as husband I obey. 

On the peaks of lofty mountains, in the forests dark and lone. 

We shall range the boundless woodlands and the )oys of dalliance 
prove!” 

11 Surpa-na1{ha Punished 

Rama heard her impious purpose and a gentle smile repressed. 

To the foul and forward female thus his mocking words addressed: 
“List, O passion-smitten maiden! Sita is my honoured wife, 

With a rival loved and cherished cruel were thy wedded life! 

But no consort follows Lakshman, peerless is his comely face. 

Dauntless is his warlike valour, matchless is his courtly grace. 

And he leads no wife or consort to this darksome woodland grove, 
With no rival to thy passion seek his ample-hearted love!” 

Surpa-nakha passion-laden then on Lakshman turned her eye. 

But in merry mocking accents smiling Lakshman made reply : 

“Ruddy in thy youthful beauty like the lotus in her pride, 

I am slave of royal Rama, wouldst thou be a vassal’s bride? 

Rather be his younger consort, banish Sita from his arms, 

Spurning Sita’s faded beauty let him seek thy fresher charms, 

Spurning Sita’s faded graces let him brighter pleasures prove, 

Wearied with a woman’s dalliance let him court a Raksha’s love!” 
Wrath of unrequited passion raged like madness in her breast, 

Torn by anger strong as tempest thus her answer she addrest: 

“Are these mocking accents uttered, Rama, to insult my flame, 
Feasting on her faded beauty dost thou still revere thy dame? 

But beware a Raksha’s fury and an injured female’s wrath, 

Surpa-nakha slays thy consort bears no rival in her path!” 



INDIAN IMAGINATION 


204 

Fawn-eyed Sita fell in terror as the Raksha rose to slay, 

So beneath the flaming meteor sinks Rohini’s softer ray, 

And like Demon of Destruction furious Surpa-nakha came, 

Rama rose to stop the slaughter and protect his helpless dame. 

“Brother, we have acted wrongly, for with those of savage breed. 
Word in ]est is courting danger, — this the penance of our deed, 

Death perchance or death-like stupor hovers o’er my loved dame, 

Let me wake to life my Sita, chase this female void of shame!” 
Lakshman’s anger leaped like lightning as the female hovered near. 
With his sword the wrathful warrior cleft her nose and either ear, 
Surpa-nakha in her anguish raised her accents shrill and high. 

And the rocks and wooded valleys answered back the dismal cry, 
Khara and the doughty Dushan heard the far-resounding wail, 

Saw her red disfigured visage, heard her sad and woeful tale! 

Ill Rama's Departure 

Vainly fought the vengeful Khara, doughty Dushan vainly bled, 

Rama and the valiant Lakshman strewed the forest with the dead. 

Till the humbled Surpa-nakha to her royal brother hied. 

Spake her sorrows unto Ravan and Mancha true and tried. 

Shape of deer unmatched in beauty now the deep Mancha wore. 
Golden tints upon his haunches, sapphire on his antlers bore, 

Till the woodland-wand’nng Sita marked the creature in his pride, 
Golden was his neck of beauty, silver-white his flank and side! 

“Come, my lord and gallant Lakshman,” thus the raptur’d Sita spake, 
“Mark the deer of wondrous radiance browsing by the forest brake!” 
“Much my heart misgives me, sister,” Lakshman hesitated still, 

“ ’Tis some deep deceitful Raksha wearing every shape at will, 
Monarchs wand’rmg in this forest, hunting in this lonely glen. 

Oft waylaid by artful Rakshas are by deep devices slain. 

Bright as day-god or Gandharva} woodland scenes they love to stray, 
Till they fall upon the heedless, quick to slaughter and to slay. 

Trust me, not in jewelled lustre forest creatures haunt the green, 

’Tis some maya^ and illusion, trust not what thy eyes have seen!” 
Vainly spake the watchful Lakshman in the arts of Rakshas skilled. 

For with forceful fascination Sita’s inmost heart was thrilled, 

^ A celestial musician, ^ Maya is illusion. 



THE EPIC OF RAMA 205 

“Husband, good and ever gracious/’ sweetly thus implored the wife, 

“I would tend this thing of beauty, — ^sharer of my forest life! 

I have witnessed in this jungle graceful creatures passing fair, 

Chowri^ and the gentle roebuck, antelope of beauty rare, 

I have seen the lithesome monkey sporting in the branches’ shade, 
Grizzly bear that feeds on Mahua^ and the deer that crops the blade, 

I have marked the stately wild bull dash into the deepest wood. 

And the Ktnnar ® strange and wondrous as in sylvan wilds he stood. 
But these eyes have never rested on a form so wondrous fair. 

On a shape so full of beauty, decked with tints so rich and rare! 

Bright his bosom gem-bespangled, soft the lustre of his eye, 

Lighting up the gloomy jungle as the Moon lights up the sky. 

And his gentle voice and glances and his graceful steps and light, 

Fill my heart with eager longing and my soul with soft delight! 

If alive that beauteous object thou canst capture in thy way. 

As thy Sita’s sweet companion in these woodlands he will stay. 

And when done our days of exile, to Ayodhya will repair. 

Dwell in Sita’s palace chamber nursed by Sita’s tender care, 

And our royal brother Bharat oft will praise his strength and speed, 
And the queens and royal mothers pause the gentle thing to feed! 

If alive this wary creature be it, husband, hard to take. 

Slay him and his skin of lustre cherish for thy Sita’s sake, 

I will as a golden carpet spread the skin upon the grass. 

Sweet memento of this forest when our forest days will pass! 

Pardon if an eager longing which befits a woman ill, 

And an unknown fascination doth my inmost bosom fill. 

As I mark his skin bespangled and his antlers’ sapphire ray, 

And his coat of starry radiance glowing in the light of day!” 

Rama bade the faithful Lakshman with the gentle Sita stay. 

Long through woods and gloomy gorges vainly held his cautious way, 
Vainly set the snare in silence by the lake and m the dale, 

’Scaping every trap, Maricha, pierced by Rama’s arrows fell. 

Imitating Rama’s accents uttered forth his dying cry : 

“Speed, my faithful brother Lakshman, helpless in the woods I die!” 

^ Properly chamari, the yak. 

^ Properly madhuka, a tree. 

® A being with the body of a man, and face of a horse. 



2o6 


INDIAN imagination 


IV 'La\shman*s Departure 

“Heardst that distant cry of danger?” questioned Sita in distress, 
“Woe, to me^ who in my frenzy sent my lord to wilderness, 

Speed, brave Lakshman, help my Rama, doleful was his distant cry. 
And my fainting bosom falters and a dimness clouds my eye! 

To the dread and darksome forest with thy keenest arrows speed. 

Help thy elder and thy monarch, sore his danger and his need, 

For perchance the cruel Rakshas gather round his lonesome path. 

As the mighty bull is slaughtered by the lions in their wrath!” 

Spake the hero: “Fear not, Sita! Dwellers of the azure height, 

Rakshas nor the jungle-rangers match the peerless Rama’s might, 
Rama knows no dread or danger, and his mandate still I own. 

And I may not leave thee, Lady, in this cottage all alone! 

Cast aside thy causeless terror; in the sky or earth below. 

In the nether regions, Rama knows no peer or equal foe. 

He shall slay the deer of jungle, he shall voice no dastard cry, 

’Tis some trick of wily Rakshas in this forest dark and high! 

Sita, thou hast heard my elder bid me in this cottage stay, 

Lakshman may not leave thee, Lady, for this duty — to obey. 

Ruthless Rakshas roam the forest to revenge their leader slain. 

Various are their arts and accents; chase thy thought of causeless pain!” 
Sparkled Sita’s eye in anger, frenzy marked her speech and word. 

For a woman’s sense is clouded by the danger of her lord: 

“Markest thou my Rama’s danger with a cold and callous heart, 
Courtest thou the death of elder in thy deep deceitful art. 

In thy semblance of compassion dost thou hide a cruel craft. 

As in friendly guise the foeman hides his death-compelling shaft. 
Following like a faithful younger in this dread and lonesome land, 
Seekest thou the death of elder to enforce his widow’s hand? 

False thy hope as foul thy purpose! Sita is a faithful wife, 

Sita follows saintly Rama, true in death as true in life!” 

Quivered Lakshman’s frame in anguish and the tear stood in his eye, 
Fixed in faith and pure in purpose, calm and bold he made reply: 
“Unto me a Queen and Goddess, — as a mother to a son, — 

Answer to thy heedless censure patient Lakshman speaketh none, 
Daughter of Videha’s monarch, — ^paidon if I do thee wrong, — 

Fickle is the faith of woman, poison-dealing is her tongue! 



THE EPIC OF RAMA 


207 


And thy censure, trust me, Lady, scathes me like a burning dart, 

Free from guile is Lakshman’s purpose, free from sin is Lakshman’s 
heart, 

Witness ye my truth of purpose, unseen dwellers of the wood. 

Witness, I for Sita’s safety by my elder’s mandate stood. 

Duteous to my queen and elder, I have toiled and worked in vain, 

Dark suspicion and dishonour cast on me a needless stain! 

Lady 1 1 obey thy mandate, to my elder now I go, 

Guardian Spirits of the forest watch thee from each secret foe. 

Omens dar\ and signs of danger meet my pained and aching sight. 

May 1 see thee by thy Rama, guarded by his conquering might!'" 

V Ravan's Coming 

Ravan watched the happy moment burning with a vengeful spite. 
Came to sad and sorrowing Sita in the guise of anchorite. 

Tufted hair and russet garment, sandals on his feet he wore. 

And depending from his shoulders on a staff his vessel bore. 

And he came to lonely Sita, for each warlike chief was gone, 

As the darkness comes to evening lightless from the parted Sun, 

And he cast his eyes on Sita, as a graha^ its shade 
On the beauteous star Rohini when the bright Moon’s glories fade. 
Quaking Nature knew the moment; silent stood the forest trees. 
Conscious of a deed of darkness fell the fragrant forest breeze, 
Godavari’s troubled waters trembled ’neath his lurid glance, 

And his red eye’s fiery lustre sparkled in the wavelets’ dance! 

Mute and still were forest creatures when in guise of anchorite, 

Unto Sita’s lonely cottage pressed the Raksha in his might, 

Mute and voiceless was the jungle as he cast on her his eye. 

As across the star of Chitra, planet Sani walks the sky! 

Ravan stood in hermit’s vestments, — ^vengeful purpose unrcvealed, - 
As a deep and darksome cavern is by grass and leaf concealed, 

Ravan stood sedate and silent, and he gazed on Rama’s queen. 

Ivory brow and lip of coral, sparkling teeth of pearly sheen! 

Lighting up the lonely cottage, Sita sat in radiance high. 

As the Moon with streaks of silver fills the lonely midnight sky, 
Lighting up the gloomy woodlands with her eyes serenely fair, 

With her bark-clad shape of beauty mantled by her raven hair! 

^ The power of darkness, supposed to seize the sun or the moon at eclipse, 



208 


INDIAN IMAGINATION 


Ravan fired by impure passion fixed on her in lustful eye. 

And the light that lit his glances gave his holy texts the lie, 

Ravan in his flattering accents, with a soft and soothing art. 

Praised the woman’s peerless beauty to subdue the woman’s heart: 
“Beaming in thy golden beauty, robed in sylvan russet dress. 

Wearing wreath of fragrant lotus like a nymph of wilderness, 

Art thou 5n ^ or radiant Gauri^ maid of Fortune or of Fame, 

Nymph of Love or sweet Fruition, what may be thy sacred name? 

On thy lips of ruddy coral teeth of tender jasmine shine. 

In thy eyes of limpid lustre dwells a light of love divine, 

Tall and slender, softly rounded, are thy limbs of beauty rare, 

Like the swelling fruit of tala^ heaves thy bosom sweetly fair! 

Smiling lips that tempt and ravish, lustre that thy dark eyes beam, 
Crush my heart, as rolling waters crush the margin of the stream. 

And thy wealth of waving tresses mantles o’er thy budding charms, 
And thy waist of slender beauty courts a lover’s circling arms! 

Goddess or Gandharva maiden wears no brighter form or face. 

Woman seen by eyes of mortals owns not such transcendent grace, 
Wherefore then, in lonesome forest, nymph or maiden, make thy stay, 
Where the jungle creatures wander and the Rakshas hold their sway? 
Royal halls and stately mansions were for thee a meeter home. 

And thy steps should grace a palace, not in pathless forest roam. 
Blossoms rich, not thorn of jungle, decorate a lady’s bower, 

Silken robes, not sylvan garments, heighten Beauty’s potent power! 
Lady of the sylvan forest! other destiny is thme, — 

As a bride beloved and courted in thy bridal garments shine. 

Choose a loved and lordly suitor who shall wait on thee in pride. 

Choose a hero worth thy beauty, be a monarch’s queenly bride! 

Speak thy lineage, heaven-descended! who may be thy parents high, 
Rudras or the radiant Maruts, Vasus leaders of the sky. 

All unworthy is this forest for a nymph or heavenly maid. 

Beasts of prey infest the jungle, Rakshas haunt its gloomy shade. 

Lions dwell in lovely caverns, tuskers ford the silent lake. 

Monkeys sport on pendant branches, tigers steal beneath the brake. 
Wherefore then this dismal forest doth thy fairy face adorn. 

Who are thou and whence descended, nymph or maid or goddess-born?” 

^ Goddess o£ beauty and wealth, wife of Vishnu, 

® A goddess, wife of Siva. 

* A species of palm-tree with round fruit. 



THE EPIC OF RAMA 


209 


VI Ravan's Wooing 

“Listen, Brahman!” answered Sita,— unsuspecting in her mind 
That she saw a base betrayer in a hermit seeming kind,— 

“I am born of royal Janak, ruler of Videha’s land, 

Rama prince of proud Kosala by his valour won my hand. 

Years we passed in peaceful pleasure in Ayodhya’s happy clime, 

Rich in every rare enjoyment gladsome passed our happy time. 

Till the monarch Dasa-ratha, — for his days were almost done, — 
Wished to crown the royal Rama as his Heir and Regent son. 

But the scheming Queen Kaikeyi claimed a long-forgotten boon, 

That my consort should be exiled and her son should fill the throne, 

She would take no rest or slumber, nourishment of drink or food, 

Till her Bharat ruled the empire, Rama banished to the wood! 

Five and twenty righteous summers graced my good and gracious lord, 
True to faith and true to duty, true in purpose, deed, and word, 

Loved of all his loyal people, rich in valour and in fame. 

For the rite of consecration Rama to his father came. 

Spake Kaikeyi to my husband : — ^‘List thy father’s promise fair, 

Bharat shall be ruling monarch, do thou to the woods repair,’ — 

Ever gentle, ever duteous, Rama listened to obey, 

And through woods and pathless jungles we have held our lonely way. 
This, O pious-hearted hermit, is his story of distress, 

And his young and faithful brother follows him in wilderness, 

Lion in his warlike valour, hermit in his saintly vow, 

Lakshman with his honoured elder wanders through the forest now. 
Rest thee here, O holy Brahman, rich m piety and fame, 

Till the forest-ranging brothers greet thee with the forest game. 

Speak, if so it please thee, father, what great nshi claims thy birth, 
Wherefore in this pathless jungle wand’rest friendless on this earth,” 
“Brahman nor a righteous rishi,'" royal Ravan made reply, 

“Leader of the wrathful Rakshas, Lanka’s lord and king am I, 

He whose valour quells the wide-world, Gods above and men below, 

He whose proud and peerless prowess Rakshas and Asuras know! 

But thy beauty’s golden lustre, Sita, wins my royal heart. 

Be a sharer of my empire, of my glory take a part, 

Many queens of queenly beauty on the royal Ravan wait, 

Thou shalt be their reigning empress, thou shalt own my regal state! 



210 INDIAN IMAGINATION 

Lanka girt by boundless ocean is of royal towns the best, 

Seated in her pride and glory on a mountain’s towering crest, 

And in mountain paths and woodlands thou shalt with thy Ravan stray, 
Not in Godavari’s gorges through the dark and dreary day, 

And five thousand gay-dressed damsels shall upon my Sita wait, 

Queen of Ravan’s true affection, proud partaker of his state!” 

Sparkled Sita’s eyes in anger and a tremor shook her frame. 

As in proud and scornful accents answered thus the royal dame: 
“Knowest thou Rama great and godlike, peerless hero in the strife, 
Deep, uncompassed, like the ocean? — I am Rama’s wedded-wife! 
Knowest thou Rama proud and princely, sinless in his saintly life. 
Stately as the tall Nyagrodha? — I am Rama’s wedded wife! 
Mighty-armed, mighty-chested, mighty with his bow and sword, 

Lion midst the sons of mortals, — Rama is my wedded lord! 

Stainless as the Moon in glory, stainless in his deed and word, 

Rich in valour and in virtue, — Rama is my wedded lord! 

Sure thy fitful life is shadowed by a dark and dreadful fate. 

Since in frenzy of thy passion courtest thou a warrior’s mate, 

Tear the tooth of hungry lion while upon the calf he feeds. 

Touch the fang of deadly cobra while his dying victim bleeds, 

Aye, uproot the solid mountain from its base of rocky land. 

Ere thou win the wife of Rama stout of heart and strong of hand! 
Pierce thy eye with point of needle till it racks thy tortured head. 

Press thy red tongue cleft and bleeding on the razor’s shining blade, 
Hurl thyself upon the ocean from a towering peak and high. 

Snatch the orbs of day and midnight from their spheres in azure sky, 
Tongues of flaming conflagration in thy flowing dress enfold. 

Ere thou take the wife of Rama to thy distant dungeon hold. 

Ere thou seek to insult Rama unrelenting in his wrath, 

O’er a bed of pikes of iron tread a softer easier path!” 

VII Ravan's Triumph 

Vain her threat and soft entreaty, Ravan held her in his wrath. 

As the planet Budha captures fair Rohini in his path, 

By his left hand tremor-shaken, Ravan held her streaming hair, 

By his right the ruthless Raksha lifted up the fainting fair! 

^ The banyan or Indian fig-tree. 



THE EPIC OF RAMA 2II 

Unseen dwellers of the woodlands watched the dismal deed of shame, 
Marked the mighty-armed Raksha lift the poor and helpless dame, 

Seat her on his car celestial yoked with asses winged with speed, 

Golden in its shape and radiance, fleet as Indra’s heavenly steed! 

Angry threat and sweet entreaty Ravan to her ears addressed, 

As the struggling fainting woman still he held upon his breast, 

Vain his threat and vain entreaty, “Rama! Rama!” still she cried, 

To the dark and distant forest where her noble lord had hied. 

Then arose the car celestial o’er the hill and wooded vale, 

Like a snake in eagle’s talons Sita writhed with piteous wail, 

Dim and dizzy, faint and faltering, still she sent her piercing cry, 
Echoing through the boundless woodlands, pealing to the upper sky: 
“Save me, mighty-armed Lakshman, stainless in thy heart and deed, 
Save a faithful wife and woman from a Raksha’s lust and greed. 

True and faithful was thy warning, — false and foul the charge I made. 
Pardon, friend, an erring sister, pardon words a woman said! 

Help me, ever righteous Rama, duty bade thee yield thy throne. 

Duty bids thee smite the sinful, save the wife who is thy own, 

Thou art king and stern chastiser of each deed of sin and shame, 

Hurl thy vengeance on the Raksha who insults thy faithful dame! 

Deed of stn, unrighteous Ravan, brings in time its dreadful meed, 

As the young corn grows and ripens from the small and living seed. 

For this deed of insult, Ravan, in thy heedless folly done, 

Death of all thy race and \indred thou shah reap from Raghus sonl 
Darksome woods of Panchavati, Janasthana’s smiling vale. 

Flowering trees and winding creepers, murmur to my lord this tale, 
Sweet companions of my exile, friends who cheered my woodland stay, 
Speak to Rama, that his Sita ruthless Ravan bears away! 

Towering peaks and lofty mountains, wooded hills sublime and high, 
Far-extending gloomy ranges heaving to the azure sky, 

In your voice of pealing thunder to my lord and consort say. 

Speak of Rama, that his Sita ruthless Ravan bears away! 

Unseen dwellers of the woodlands, spirits of the rock and fell, 

Sita renders you obeisance as she speaks her sad farewell. 

Whisper to my righteous Rama when he seeks his homeward way. 
Speak to Rama, that his Sita ruthless Ravan bears away! 

Ah, my Rama, true and tender! thou hast loved me as thy life. 

From the foul and impious Raksha thou shalt still redeem thy wife, 



212 


INDIAN IMAGINATION 


Ah, my Rama, mighty-armed! vengeance soon shall speed thy way, 
When thou hearest helpless Sita is by Ravan torn away! 

And thou royal bird, Jatayu, witness Ravan’s deed of shame, 

Witness how he courts destruction, stealing Rama’s faithful dame, 
Rama and the gallant Lakshman soon shall find their destined prey, 
When they know that trusting Sita is by Ravan torn away!” 

Vainly wept the anguished Sita; vain Jatayu in his wrath, 

Fought with beak and bloody talons to impede the Raksha’s path. 
Pierced and bleeding fell the vulture; Raven fled with Rama’s bride, 
Where amidst the boundless ocean Lanka rose in towering pride! 


BOOK VII KISHKINDHA 
(In theNilgiri Mountains) 

Rama’s wanderings in the Nilgiri mountains, and his alliance with 
Sugriva the chief of these regions, form the subject of the Book. With 
that contempt for aboriginal races which has marked civilized con- 
querors in all ages, the poet describes the dwellers of these regions as 
monkeys and bears. But the modern reader sees through these strange 
epithets; and in the description of the social and domestic manners, the 
arts and industries, the sacred rites and ceremonies, and the civic and 
political life of the Vanars, the reader will find that the poet even imports 
Aryan customs into his account of the dwellers of Southern India. They 
formed an alliance with Rama, they fought for him and triumphed with 
him, and they helped him to recover his wife from the king of Ceylon. 

The portions translated in this Book from Sections v., xv., xvi., xxvi., a 
portion of Section xxviii., and an abstract of Sections xl. to xliii. of Book 
iv. of the original text. 


I Friends in Misfortune 

Long and loud lamented Rama by his lonesome cottage door, 
Janasthana’s woodlands answered, Panchavati’s echoing shore. 

Long he searched in wood and jungle, mountain crest and pathless plain, 
Till he reached the Malya mountains stretching to the southern main. 
There Sugriva king of Vanars, Hanuman his henchman brave. 
Banished from their home and empire lived within the forest cave, 



THE EPIC OF RAMA 


213 


To the exiled king Sugriva, Hanuman his purpose told, 

As he marked the pensive Rama wand’ring with his brother bold : 
“Mark the sons of Dasa-ratha banished from their royal home, 
Duteous to their father’s mandate in these pathless forests roam, 
Great was monarch Dasa-ratha famed for sacrifice divine, 
Ra^a-suya^ Aswa-medha^ and for gift of gold and kine. 

By a monarch’s stainless duty people’s love the monarch won. 

By a woman’s false contrivance banished he his eldest son! 

True to duty, true to virtue, Rama passed his forest life. 

Till a false perfidious Raksha stole his fair and faithful wife. 

And the anguish-stricken husband seeks thy friendship and thy aid. 
Mutual sorrow blends your fortunes, be ye friends in mutual need!” 
Bold Sugriva heard the counsel, and to righteous Rama hied. 

And the princess of Ayodhya with his greetings gratified: 

''Well I \now thee, righteous Rama, soul of piety and love, 

And thy duty to thy father and thy faith in God above, 

Fortune favours poor Sugriva, Rama courts his humble aid, 

In our deepest direst danger be our truest friendship made! 

Equal IS our fateful fortune, — 1 have lost a queenly wife. 

Banished from Kishhindhds empire here I lead a forest life, 

Pledge' of love and true alliance, Rama, ta\e this proffered hand, 
Banded by a common sorrow we shall fall or stoutly stand!'' 

Rama grasped the hand he offered, and the tear was in his eye, 

And they swore undying friendship o’er the altar blazing high, 
Hanuman with fragrant blossoms sanctified the sacred rite, 

And the comrades linked by sorrow walked around the altar’s light. 
And their word and troth they plighted : “In our happiness and woe 
We are friends in thought and action, we will face our common foe!” 
And they broke a leafy Sal tree, spread it underneath their feet, 

Rama and his friend Sugriva sat upon the common seat. 

And a branch of scented Chandan ® with its tender blossoms graced, 
Hanuman as seat of honour for the faithful Lakshman placed. 
“Listen, Rama,” spake Sugriva, “reft of kingdom, reft of wife, 

Fleeing to these rugged mountains I endure a forest life. 

For my tyrant brother Bali rules Kishkmdha all alone, 

Forced my wife from my embraces, drove me from my father’s throne. 
Trembling in my fear and anguish I endure a life of woe. 

Render me my wife and empire from my brother and my foe!” 

^ An imperial sacrifice. ® Horse sacnficc, * Sandal tree. 



INDIAN IMAGINATION 


214 

“Not in vain they seek my succour,” so the gallant Rama said, 

“Who with love and offered friendship seek my counsel and my aid. 

Not in vain these glistening arrows in my ample quiver shine, 

Bali dies the death of tyrants, wife and empire shall be thine! 

Quic\ as Indra’s for\ed lightning are these arrows feather-plumed, 
Deadly as the hissing serpent are these darts with points illumed. 

And this day shall not be ended ere it sees thy brother fall. 

As by lurid lightning severed stn\s the crest of mountain tail!'* 

II The Counsel of Tara 

Linked in bonds of faithful friendship Rama and Sugriva came. 

Where in royal town Kishkindha, Bali ruled with warlike fame. 

And a shout like troubled ocean’s or like tempest’s deafening roar 
Spake Sugriva’s mighty challenge to the victor king once morel 
Ball knew that proud defiance shaking sky and solid ground. 

And like sun by eclipse shaded, dark and pale he looked around, 

And his teeth were set in anger and a passion lit his eye, 

As a tempest stirs a torrent when its lilies scattered lie, 

And he rose in wrath terrific with a thought of vengeance dread, 

And the firm earth shook and trembled ’neath his proud and haughty 
tread! 

But the true and tender Tara held her husband and her lord, 

And a woman’s deeper wisdom spake in woman’s loving word: 
“Wherefore like a rain-fed torrent swells thy passion in its sway, 
Thoughts of wrath like withered blossoms from thy bosom cast away, 
Wait till dawns another morning, wait till thou dost truly know, 

With what strength and added forces comes again thy humbled foe. 
Crushed in combat faint Sugriva fled in terror and in pain, 

Trust me, not without a helper comes he to the fight again, 

Trust me, lord, that loud defiance is no coward’s falt’ring cry, 

Conscious strength not hesitation speaks in voice so proud and high! 
Much my woman’s heart misgives me, not without a mighty aid, 

Not without a daring comrade comes Sugriva to this raid, 

Not with feeble friend Sugriva seeks alliance in his need. 

Nor invokes a powerless chieftain in his lust and in his greed. 

Mighty is his royal comrade*,— listen, husband, to my word, 

What my son in forest confines from his messengers hath heard,— 



THE EPIC OF RAMA 


215 


Princes from Ayodhya’s country peerless in the art of war, 

Rama and the valiant Lakshman in these forests wander far, 

Much I fear, these matchless warriors have their aid and counsel lent 
Conscious of his strength Sugriva hath this proud defiance sent! 

To his foes resistless Rama is a lightning from above, 

To his friends a tree of shelter, soul of tenderness and love, 

Dearer than his love of glory is his love to heal and bless. 

Dearer than the crown and empire is his hermit’s holy dress, 

Not with such, my lord and husband, seek a vain unrighteous strife, 
For, like precious ores in mountains, virtues dwell in Rama’s life. 
Make Sugriva thy companion, make him Regent and thy Heir, 
Discord with a younger brother rends an empire broad and fair, 
Make thy peace with young Sugriva, nearest and thy dearest kin. 
Brother’s love is truest safety, brother’s hate is deadliest sin* 

Trust me, monarch of Kishkindha, trust thy true and faithful wife, 
Thou shalt find no truer comrade than Sugriva in thy life. 

Wage not then a war fraternal, smite him not in sinful pride. 

As a brother and a warrior let him stand by Bali’s side. 

Listen to thy Tara’s counsel if to thee is Tara dear, 

If thy wife is true in duty scorn not Tara’s wifely tear. 

Not with Rama prince of virtue wage a combat dread and high, 

Not with Rama prince of valour, peerless like the Lord of sky!” 

Ill The Fall of Bali 

Star-eyed Tara softly counselled pressing to her consort’s side, 
Mighty Ball proudly answered with a warrior’s lofty pride: 
“Challenge of a humbled foeman and a younger’s haughty scorn 
May not, shall not, tender Tara, by a king be meekly borne! 

Bali turns not from encounter even with his dying breath. 

Insult from a foe, unanswered, is a deeper stain than death, 

And Sugriva’s quest for combat Bali never shall deny. 

Though sustained by Rama’s forces and by Rama’s prowess high! 
Free me from thy sweet embraces and amidst thy maids retire. 
Woman’s love and soft devotion woman’s timid thoughts inspire, 
Fear not, Tara, blood of brother Bali’s honour shall not stain, 

I will quell his proud presumption, chase him from this realm again. 
Free me from thy loving dalliance, midst thy damsels seek thy place, 
Till I come a happy victor to my Tara’s fond embrace!” 



2i6 


INDIAN IMAGINATION 


Slow and sad with sweet obeisance Tara stepped around her lord, 
Welling tear-drops choked her accents as she prayed in stifled word, 
Slow and sad with swelling bosom Tara with her maids retired, 

Bah issued proud and stately with the thought of vengeance fired! 
Hissing like an angry cobra, city’s lofty gates he past. 

And his proud and angry glances fiercely all around he cast. 

Till he saw bold Sugriva, gold-complexioned, red with ire, 

Girded for the dubious combat, flaming like the forest fire* 

Bali braced his warlike garments and his hand he lifted high. 

Bold Surgiva raised his right arm with a proud and answering cry, 
Bali’s eyes were red as copper and his chain was burnished gold. 

To his brother bold Sugriva thus he spake in accents bold: 

“Mark this iron fist, intruder, fatal is its vengeful blow, 

Crushed and smitten thou shalt perish and to nether world shalt go,” 
“Nay that fate awaits thee, Bah,” spake Sugriva armed for strife, 
“When this right arm smites thy forehead, from thy bosom rends thy 
life!” 

Closed the chiefs in fatal combat, each resistless in his pride. 

And like running rills from mountains poured their limbs the purple 
tide. 

Till Sugriva quick uprooting Sal tree from the jungle wood. 

As the dark cloud hurls the lightning, hurled it where his brother stood. 
Staggering ’neath the blow terrific Bali reeled and almost fell, 

As a proud ship overladen reels upon the ocean’s swell! 

But with fiercer rage and fury Bali in his anguish rose, 

And with mutual blows they battled, — ^brothers and relentless foes. 
Like the sun and moon in conflict or like eagles in their fight. 

Still they fought with cherished hatred and an unforgotten spite. 

Till with mightier force and fury Bah did his younger quell. 

Faint Sugriva fiercely struggling ’neath his brother’s prowess fell! 

Still tdie wrathful rivals wrestled with their bleeding arms and knees, 
With their nails like claws o£ tigers and with riven rocks and trees. 

And as Indra battles Vritra m the tempest’s peahng roar, 

Blood-stained Bali, red Sugriva, strove and struggled, fought and tore, 
Till Sugriva faint and falt’ring fell like Vritra from the sky. 

To his comrade and his helper turned his faint and pleading eye! 

Ah! those soft and pleading glances smote the gentle Rama’s heart, 

On his bow of ample stature Rama raised the fatal dart, 



THE EPIC OF RAMA 


217 


Like the fatal disc of Yam a was his proudly circled bow, 

Like a snake of deadly poison flew his arrow swift and low, 

Winged dwellers of the forest heard the twang with trembling fear, 
Echoing woods gave back the accent, lightly fled the startled deer, 

And as Indra’s flag is lowered when the Aswin winds prevail, 

Lofty Bali pierced and bleeding by that fatal arrow fell! 

IV The Consecration of Sugriva 

Tears of love the tender Tara on her slaughtered hero shed. 

E’en Sugriva’s bosom melted when he saw his brother dead. 

And each Vanar chief and warrior, maha-matra, ^ lord and peer. 
Gathered round the sad Sugriva wet with unavailing tear^ 

And they girt the victor Rama and they praised his wond rous might. 
As the heavenly rtshis gather circling Brahma’s throne of light, 
Hanuman of sun-like radiance, lofty as a hill of gold. 

Clasped his hands in due obeisance, spake in accents calm and bold: 

“By thy prowess, peerless Rama, prince Sugriva is our lord, 

To his father’s throne and empire, to his father’s town restored. 
Cleansed by bath and fragrant unguents and in royal garments gay. 

He shall with his gold and garlands homage to the victor pay, 

To the rock-bound fair Kishkindha do thy friendly footsteps bend, 
And as monarch of the Vanars consecrate thy grateful friend!” 
“Fourteen years,” so Rama answered, “by his father’s stern command, 
In a city’s sacred confines banished Rama may not stand. 

Friend and comrade, brave Sugriva, enter thou the city wall, 

And assume the royal sceptre m thy father’s royal hall. 

Gallant Angad, son of Bah, is in regal duties trained. 

Ruling partner of thy empire be the valiant prince ordained. 

Eldest son of eldest brother, — such the maxim that we own, — 

Worthy of his father’s kingdom, doth ascend his father’s throne. 
Listen! ’tis the month of Sravan^ now begins the yearly rain, 

In these months of wind and deluge thoughts of vengeful strife were vain, 
Enter then thy royal city, fair Kishkindha be thy home. 

With my ever faithful Lakshman let me in these mountains roam. 
Spacious is yon rocky cavern fragrant with the mountain air, 

Bright with lily and with lotus, watered by a streamlet fair, 

^ A royal ol5cer, ® July-August, 



2i8 


INDIAN IMAGINATION 


Here we dwell till month of Karti\ ^ when the clouded sky will clear, 
And the time of war and vengeance on our foeman shall be near.” 
Bowing to the victor’s mandate brave Sugriva marched in state, 

And the host of thronging Vanars entered by the city gate. 

Prostrate chiefs with due obeisance rendered homage, one and all. 

And Sugriva blessed his people, stepped within the palace hall. 

And they sprinkled sacred water from the vases jewel-graced, 

And they waved the fan of chownf raised the sun-shade silver-laced, 
And they spread the gold and jewel, gram and herb and fragrant ghee. 
Sapling twigs and bending branches, blossoms from the flowering tree, 
Milk-white garments gem-bespangled, and the Chandans fragrant dye. 
Wreaths and spices, snow-white lilies, lotus azure as the sky, 

Jatarupa and PriyangUj honey, curd and holy oil. 

Costly sandals gilt and jewelled, tiger-skin the hunter’s spoil! 

Decked in gold and scented garlands, robed in radiance rich and rare, 
Sweetly stepped around Sugriva sixteen maidens passing fair, 

Priests received the royal bounty, gift and garment gold-belaced. 

And they lit the holy altar with the sacred mantra graced. 

And they poured the sweet libation on the altar’s lighted flame, 

And on throne of royal splendour placed the chief of royal fame! 

On a high and open terrace with auspicious garlands graced. 

Facing eastward, in his glory was the brave Sugriva placed, 

Water from each holy river, from each tirtha famed of old, 

From the broad and boundless ocean, was arranged in jars of gold. 

And from vase and horn of wild bull, on their monarch and their lord, 
Holy consecrating water chiefs and loyal courtiers poured. 

Gaya and the great Gavaksha, Gandha-madan proud and brave, 
Hanuman held up the vases, Jambman his succour gave, 

And they laved the king Sugriva as Immortals in the sky 
Consecrate the star-eyed Indra in his mansions bright and high, 

And a shout of joy and triumph, like the pealing voice of war. 

Spake Sugriva’s consecration to the creatures near and far! 

Duteous still to Rama’s mandate, as his first-born and his own, 

King Sugriva named young Angad sharer of his royal throne, 

Gay and bannered town Kishkindha hailed Sugriva’s gracious word, 
Tender Tara wiped her tear-drops bowing to a younger lord! 

^ Kant\a, October-November. ® Or ghnta, clarified butter. 

® Fan made from the tail of the Indian, yak, * Fragrant ointment. 



THE EPIC OF KAMA 


219 


V The Rams in the Nilgtri Mountains 

“Mark the shadowing ram and tempest,” Rama to his brother said, 

As on Malya’s cloud-capped ranges in their hermit-guise they strayed, 
“Massive clouds like rolling mountains gather thick and gather high, 
Lund lightnings glint and sparkle, pealing tRunders shake the sky. 
Pregnant with the ocean moisture by the solar ray instilled, 

Now the skies like fruitful mothers are with grateful waters filled! 
Mark the folds of cloudy masses, ladder-like of smooth ascent, 

One could almost reach the Sun-god, wreath him with a wreath of scent, 
And when glow these heavy masses red and white with evening’s glow, 
One could almost deem them sword-cuts branded by some heavenly foe! 
Mark the streaks of golden lustre lighting up the checkered sky, 

Like a lover chandan-painttd in each breeze it heaves a sigh, 

And the earth is hot and feverish, moistened with the tears of rain, 
Sighting like my anguished Sita when she wept in woe and pain! 

Fresh and sweet like draught of nectar is the rain-besprinkled breeze. 
Fragrant with the \eta\ ^ blossom, scented by the camphor trees, 

Fresh and bold each peak and mountain bathed in soft descending rain, 
So they sprinkle holy water when they bless a monarch’s reign! 

Fair and tall as holy hermits, stand yon shadow-mantled hills. 
Murmuring mantras with the zephyr, robed in threads of sparkling rills, 
Fair and young as gallant coursers neighing forth their thunder cries. 
Lashed by golden whips of lightning are the dappled sunlit skies! 

Ah, my lost and lovmg Sita! writhing in a Raksha’s power. 

As the lightning shakes and quivers in this dark tempestuous shower, 
Shadows thicken on the prospect, flower and leaf are wet with rain, 
And each passing object, Lakshman, wakes in me a thought of pain! 
Joyously from throne and empire with my Sita I could part. 

As the stream erodes its margin, Sita’s absence breaks my heart, 

Ram and tempest cloud the prospect as they cloud my onward path, 
Dubious is my darksome future, mighty is my foeman’s wrath! 

Ravan monarch of the Rakshas, — ^so Jatayu said and died, — 

In some unknown forest fastness doth my sorrowing Sita hide. 

But Sugriva true and faithful seeks the Raksha’s secret hold, 

Firm in faith and fixed in purpose wc will face our foeman bold!” 

^ A stroDg-scented plant. 



220 


INDIAN IMAGINATION 


VI The Quest for Sita 

Past the rains, the marshalled Vanars gathered round Sugriva bold, 
And unto a gallant chieftain thus the king his purpose told: 

“Brave in war and wise in counsel! take ten thousand of my best, 

Seek the hiding-place of Ravan in the regions of the East. 

Seek each ravine rock and forest and each shadowy hill and cave. 
Far where bright Sarayu’s waters mix with Ganga’s ruddy wave. 

And where Jumna’s dark blue waters ceaseless roll m regal pride. 
And the Sone through leagues of cbuntry spreads its torrents far and 
wide. 

Seek where in Videha’s empire castled towns and hamlets shine, 

In Kosala and in Malwa and by Kasi’s sacred shrine, 

Magadh rich in peopled centres, Pundra region of the brave, 

Anga rich in corn and cattle on the eastern ocean wave. 

Seek where clans of skilful weavers dwell upon the eastern shore, 
And from virgin mines of silver miners work the sparkling ore. 

In the realms of uncouth nations, in the islets of the sea. 

In the mountains of the ocean, wander far and wander free!” 

Next to Nila son of Agni, Jambaman Vidahata’s son, 

Hanuman the son of Marut, famed for deeds of valour done. 

Unto Gaya and Gavaksha, Gandha-madan true and tried. 

Unto Angad prince and regent, thus the brave Sugriva cried: 
“Noblest, bravest of our chieftains, greatest of our race are ye. 

Seek and search the southern regions, rock and ravine, wood and tree. 
Search the thousand peaks of Vindhya lifting high its misty head, 
Through the gorges of Narmada rolling o’er its rocky bed. 

By the gloomy Godovari and by Krishna’s wooded stream. 
Through Utkala’s sea-girt forests tinged by morning’s early gleam. 
Search the towns of famed Dasarna and Avanti’s rocky shore, 

And the uplands of Vidarbha and the mountains of Mysore, 

Land of Matsyas and Kalingas and Kausika’s regions fair, 

Trackless wilderness of Dandak seek with anxious toil and care. 
Search the empire of the Andhras, of the sister-nations three, — 
Cholas, Cheras and the Pandyas dwelling by the southern sea. 

Pass Kavcri’s spreading waters, Malya’s mountains towering brave. 
Seek the isle of Tamra-parni, gemmed upon the ocean wave!” 

To Susena chief and elder, — ^Tara’s noble sire was he, — 

Spake Sugriva with obeisance and in accents bold and free: 



THE EPIC OF RAMA 


221 


“Take my lord, a countless army of the bravest and the best, 

Search where beats the sleepless ocean on the regions of the West. 
Search the country of Saurashtras, of Bahlikas strong and brave, 

And each busy mart and seaport on the western ocean wave, 

Castles girt by barren mountains, deserts by the sandy sea, 

Forests of the fragrant \eta\, regions of the tamal tree! 

Search the ocean port of Pattan shaded by its fruitful trees, 

Where the feathery groves of cocoa court the balmy western breeze, 
Where on peaks of Soma-giri lordly lions wander free. 

Where the waters of the Indus mingle with the mighty sea!” 

Lastly to the valiant chieftain Satavala strong and brave, 

For the quest of saintly Sita thus his mighty mandate gave: 

“Hie thee, gallant Satavala, with thy forces wander forth. 

To the peaks of Himalaya, to the regions of the North! 

Mlechchas and the wild Pulmdas in the rocky regions dwell, 

Madra chiefs and mighty Kurus live within each fertile vale. 

Wild Kambojas of the mountains, Yavanas of wondrous skill, 

Sakas swooping from their gorges, Pattanas of iron will! 

Search the woods of devadaru^ mantling Himalaya’s side, 

And the forests of the lodhra ^ spreading in their darksome pride, 
Search the land of Soma-srama where the gay Gandharvas dwell 
In the tableland of Kala search each rock and ravine well! 

Cross the snowy Himalaya, and Sudarsan’s holy peak, 

Deva-sakha’s wooded ranges which the feathered songsters seek, 
Cross the vast and dreary region void of stream or wooded hill. 

Till you reach the white Kailasa, home of Gods, serene and stilh 
Pass Kuvera’s pleasant regions, search the Krauncha mountain well, 
And the land where warlike females and the horse-faced women dwell, 
Halt not till you reach the country where the Northern Kurus rest. 
Utmost confines of the wide earth, home of Gods and Spirits blest!” 


BOOK VIII SITA-SANDESA 
{Sita Discovered) 

Among the many chiefs sent by Sugriva in different directions in search 
of Sita, Hanuman succeeded in the quest and discovered Sita in Ceylon. 
Ceylon is separated from India by a broad channel of the §ea^ and 

^The Himalayan pmc. '*A tree, 



222 


INDIAN IMAGINATION 


Hanuman leaped, or rather flew through the air, across the channel, and 
lighted on the island. Sita, scorning the proposals of Ravan, was kept 
in confinement in a garden of Aso\a trees, surrounded by a terrible 
guard of Raksha females: and in this hard confinement she remained 
true and faithful to her lord. Hanuman gave her a token from Rama, 
and carried back to Rama a token which she sent of her undying affec- 
tion and truth. 

The portions translated in this Book form the whole of the main por- 
tions of Sections xv., xxxi., xxxvi., and Ixvi. of Book v. of the original 
text. 


1 Sita in the Aso\a Garden 

Crossed the ocean’s boundless waters, Hanuman in duty brave, 
Lighted on the emerald island girded by the sapphire wave, 

And in tireless quest of Sita searched the margin of the sea, 

In a dark Aso\a ^ garden hid himself within a tree. 

Creepers threw their clasping tendrils round the trees of ample height, 
Stately palm and feathered cocoa, fruit and blossom pleased the sight. 
Herds of tame and gentle creatures in the grassy meadow strayed, 
Ko\ils^ sang in leafy thicket, birds of plumage lit the shade, 

Limpid lakes of scented lotus with their fragrance filled the air, 
Homes and huts of rustic beauty peeped through bushes green and fair. 
Blossoms rich in tint and fragrance in the checkered shadow gleamed. 
Clustering fruits of golden beauty in the yellow sunlight beamed! 
Brightly shone the red Aso\a with the morning’s golden ray, 
Karni]{ara and Kinsu\a ® dazzling as the light of day, 

Brightly grew the flower of Champa\ in the vale and on the reef, 
Punnaga and Saptaparna with its seven-fold scented leaf, 

Rich in blossoms many tinted, grateful to the ravished eye. 

Gay and green and glorious Lanka was like garden of the sky, 

Rich in fruit and laden creeper and in beauteous bush and tree, 
Flower-bespangled golden Lanka was like gem-bespangled sea! 

Rose a palace in the woodlands girt by pillars strong and high. 
Snowy-white like fair Kailasa cleaving through the azure sky. 

And its steps were ocean coral and its pavements yellow gold. 

White and gay and heaven-aspiring rose the structure high and bold! 

’■ Name of a flower, orange and scarlet. ® All names of flowers. 

^ An Indian singing bird. 



THE EPIC OF RAMA 


223 


By the rich and royal mansion Hanuman his eyes did rest. 

On a woman sad and sorrowing in her sylvan garments drest, 

Like the moon obscured and clouded, dim with shadows deep and dark. 
Like the smoke-enshrouded red fire, dying with a feeble spark. 

Like the tempest-pelted lotus by the wind and torrent shaken, 

Like the beauteous star Rohini by a graha^ overtaken! 

Fasts and vigils paled her beauty, tears bedimmed her tender grace, 
Anguish dwelt within her bosom, sorrow darkened on her face, 

And she lived by Rakshas guarded, as a faint and timid deer, 

Severed from her herd and kindred when the prowling wolves are near, 
And her raven locks ungathered hung behind in single braid. 

And her gentle eye was lightless, and her brow was hid in shaded 
“This is she! the peerless princess, Rama’s consort loved and lost. 

This is she! the saintly Sita, by a cruel fortune crost,” 

Hanuman thus thought and pondered: “On her graceful form I spy. 
Gems and gold by sorrowing Rama oft depicted with a sigh. 

On her ears the golden pendants and the tiger’s sharpened tooth, 

On her arms the jewelled bracelets, tokens of unchanging truth, 

On her pallid brow and bosom still the radiant jewels shine, 

Rama with a sweet affection did in early days entwine! 

Hermit’s garments clothe her person, braided in her raven hair. 
Matted bark trees of forest drape her neck and bosom fair, 

And a dower of dazzling beauty still bedecks her peerless face. 
Though the shadowing tinge of sorrow darkens all her earlier grace! 
This IS she! the soft-eyed Sita, wept with unavailing tear. 

This is she! the faithful consort, unto Rama ever dear. 

Unforgetting and unchanging, truthful stilj in deed and word, 

Sita in her silent suffering sorrows for her absent lord. 

Still for Rama lost but cherished, Sita heaves the choking sigh, 

Sita lives for righteous Rama, for her Rama she would die!” 

ll The Voice of Hope 

Hanuman from leafy shelters lifts his voice in sacred song, 

Till the tale of Rama’s glory Lanka’s woods and vales prolong: 

“Listen, Lady, to my story;— Dasa-ratha famed in war. 

Rich in steeds and royal tuskers, armed men and battle car, 

^ The spirit of darkness, responsible for eclipse. 



INDIAN IMAGINATION 


224 

Ruled his realm in truth and virtue, in his bounty ever free, 

Of the mighty race of Raghu mightiest king and monarch he, 

Robed in every royal virtue, great in peace in battle brave. 

Blest in bliss of grateful nations, blest in blessings which he gave! 

And his eldest-born and dearest, Rama soul of righteous might. 

Shone, as mid the stars resplendent shines the radiant Lord of Night, 
True unto his sacred duty, true unto his kith and kin. 

Friend of piety and virtue, punisher of crime and sin. 

Loved in all his spacious empire, peopled mart and hermit’s den. 

With a truer deeper kindness Rama loved his subject men! 

Dasa-ratha, promise-fettered, then his cruel mandate gave, 

Rama with his wife and brother lived in woods and rocky cave, 

And he slayed the deer of jungle and he slept in leafy shade, 

Stern destroyer of the Rakshas in the pathless forests strayed. 

Till the monarch of the Rakshas, — fraudful is his impious life, — 
Cheated Rama in the jungle, from his cottage stole his wife! 

Long lamenting lone and weary Rama wandered in the wood, 
Searched for Sita in the jungle where his humble cottage stood, 
Godavari’s gloomy gorges, Krishna’s dark and wooded shore. 

And the ravine, rock and valley, and the cloud-capped mountain hoar! 
Then he met the sad Sugriva in wild Malya’s dark retreat, 

Won for him his father’s empire and his father’s royal seat. 

Now Sugriva’s countless forces wander far and wander near. 

In the search of stolen Sita still unto his Rama dear! 

I am henchman of Sugriva and the mighty sea have crost. 

In the quest of hidden Sita, Rama’s consort loved and lost, 

And methinks that form of beauty, peerless shape of woman’s grace, 

Is my Rama’s dear-loved consort, Rama’s dear-remembered face!” 
Hushed the voice: the ravished Sita cast her wond’rmg eyes around, 
Whence that song of sudden gladness, whence that soul-entrancing 
sound ? 

Dawning hope and rising rapture overflowed her widowed heart, 

Is it dream’s deceitful whisper which the cruel Fates impart? 

Ill Rama's Tof^en 

“ ’Tis no dream’s deceitful whisper!” Hanuman spake to the dame. 

As from darksome leafy shelter he to Rama’s consort came, 



THE EPIC OF RAMA 


225 


“Rama’s messenger and vassal, token from thy lord I bring, 

Mark this bright ring, jewel-lettered with the dear name of thy king, 
For the loved and cherished Sita is to Rama ever dear, 

And he sends his loving message and his force is drawing near!” 

Sita held that tender token from her loved and cherished lord, 

And once more herself she fancied to his loving arms restored, 

And her pallid face was lighted and her soft eye sent a spark, 

As the Moon regains her lustre freed from Rahtis^ shadows dark^ 
And with voice of deep emotion in each softly whispered word, 

Spake her thoughts in gentle accents of her consprt and her lord : 
“Messenger of love of Rama! Dauntless is thy deed and bold, 

Thou hast crossed the boundless ocean to the Raksha’s castled hold, 
Thou hast crossed the angry billows which confess no monarch’s sway, 
O’er the face of rolling waters found thy unresisted way. 

Thou hast done what living mortal never sought to do before, 

Dared the Raksha in his island, Ravan in his sea-girt shore! 

Speak, if Rama lives in safety in the woods or by the hill. 

And if young and gallant Lakshman faithful serves his brother still, 
Speak, if Rama in his anger and his unforgiving ire. 

Hurls destruction on my captor like the world-consuming fire. 

Speak, if Rama in his sorrow wets his pale and drooping eye. 

If the thought of absent Sita wakes within his heart a sigh! 

Doth my husband seek alliance with each wild and warlike chief. 
Striving for a speedy vengeance and for Ska’s quick relief. 

Doth he stir the warlike races to a fierce and vengeful strife, 

Dealing death to ruthless Rakshas for this insult on his wife. 

Doth he still in fond remembrance cherish Sita loved of yore. 

Nursing in his hero-bosom tender sorrows evermore! 

Didst thou hear from far Ayodhya, from Kausalya royal dame, 

From the true and tender Bharat prince of proud and peerless fame. 
Didst thou hear if royal Bharat leads his forces to the fight. 
Conquering Ravan’s scattered army in his all-resistless might. 

Didst thou hear if brave Sugriva marshals Vanars in his wrath, 

And the young and gallant Lakshman seeks to cross the ocean path?” 
Hanuman with due obeisance placed his hand upon his head. 

Bowed unto the queenly Sita and in gentle accents said: 

“Trust me. Lady, valiant Rama soon will greet his saintly wife, 

E’en as Indra greets his goddess, Sachi dearer than his life, 

^The spirit of darkness. 



226 


INDIAN IMAGINATION 


Trust me, Sita, conquering Rama comes with panoply of war, 

Shaking Lanka’s sea-girt mountains, slaying Rakshas near and far! 
He shall cross the boundless ocean with the battle’s dread array, 

He shall smite the impious Ravan and the cruel Rakshas slay. 

Mighty Gods and strong Asuras shall not hinder Rama’s path, 

When at Lanka’s gates he thunders with his more than godlike wrath, 
Deadly Yam a, all-destroying, pales before his peerless might, 

When his red right arm of vengeance wrathful Rama lifts to smite! 
By the lofty Mandar mountains, by the fruit and root I seek, 

By the cloud-obstructing Vindhyas, and by Malya’s towering peak, 

I will swear, my gentle Lady, Rama’s vengeance draweth nigh. 

Thou shalt see his beaming visage like the Lord of Midnight Sky, 
Firm in purpose Rama waiteth on the Prasra-vana hill, 

As upon the huge Airavat, Indra, motionless and still! 

Flesh of deer nor forest honey tasteth Rama true and bold, 

Till he rescues cherished Sita from the Ra\shas castled hold, 
Thoughts of Sita leave not Rama dreary day or dar\some night. 

Till his vengeance deep and dreadful crushes Ravan in his might, 
Forest flower nor scented creeper pleases Rama's anguished heart. 

Till he wins his wedded consort by his death<ompelling dart!" 

IV Sita's To\en 

Token from her raven tresses Sita to the Vanar gave, 

Hanuman with dauntless valour crossed once more the ocean wave. 
Where in Prasra-vana’s mountain Rama with his brother stayed. 

Jewel from the brow of Sita by her sorrowing consort laid, 

Spake of Ravan’s foul endearment and his loathsome loving word, 
Spake of Sita’s scorn and anger and her truth unto her lord. 

Tears of sorrow and affection from the warrior’s eyelids start. 

As his consort’s loving token Rama presses to his heart! 

“As the mother-cow, Sugriva, yields her milk beside her young. 
Welling tears upon this token yields my heart by anguish wrung, 

Well I know this dear-loved jewel sparkling with the ray of heaven, 
Born in sea, by mighty Indra to my Sita’s father given. 

Well I know this tender token, Janak placed it on her hair. 

When she came my bride and consort decked in beauty rich and rare, 
Well I know this sweet memorial, Sita wore it on her head, 

And her proud and peerless beauty on the gem a lustre shed! 



THE EPIC OF RAMA 


227 


Ah, methinks the gracious Janak stands again before my eye, 

With a father’s fond affection, with a monarch’s stature high. 

Ah, methinks my bride and consort, she who wore it on her brow, 
Stands again before the altar, speaks again her loving vow, 

Ah, the sad, the sweet remembrance! ah, the happy days gone by. 
Once again, O loving vision, wilt thou gladden Rama’s eye! 

Speak again, my faithful vassal, how my Sita wept and prayed. 

Like the water to the thirsty, dear to me what Sita said. 

Did she send this sweet remembrance as a blessing from above. 

As a true and tender token of a woman’s changeless love. 

Did she waft her heart’s affection o’er the billows of the sea. 
Wherefore came she not in person from her foes and fetters free ? 
Hanuman, my friend and comrade, lead me to the distant isle, 

Where my soft-eyed Sita lingers midst the Rakshas dark and vile, 
Where my true and tender consort like a lone and stricken deer. 

Girt by Rakshas stern and ruthless sheds the unavailing tear. 

Where she weeps in ceaseless anguish, sorrow-stricken, sad and pale, 
Like the Moon by dark clouds shrouded then her light and lustre fail! 
Speak again, my faithful henchman, loving message of my wife. 

Like some potent drug her accents renovate my fainting life, 

Arm thy forces, friend Sugriva, Rama shall not brook delay. 

While in distant Lanka's confines Sita weeps the livelong day, 

Marshal forth thy bannered forces, cross the ocean in thy might, 

Rama speeds on wings of vengeance Lanka’s impious lord to smite!” 


BOOK IX RAVANA-SABHA 
(The Council of War) 

Ravan was thoroughly frightened by the deeds of Hanuman. For 
Hanuman had not only penetrated into his island and discovered Sita in 
her imprisonment, but had also managed to burn down a great portion 
of the city before he left the island. Ravan called a Council of War, and 
as might be expected, all the advisers heedlessly advised war. 

All but Bibhishan. He was the youngest brother of Ravan, and con- 
demned the folly and the crime by which Ravan was seeking a war with 
the righteous and unoffending Rama. He advised that Sita should be 
restored to her lord and peace made with Rama. His voice was drowned 
in the cries of more violent advisers. 



228 


INDIAN IMAGINATION 


It is noticeable that Ravan’s second brother, Kumbha-karna, also had 
the courage to censure his elder’s action. But unlike Bibhishan he was 
determined to fight for his king whether he was right or wrong. There 
is a touch of sublimity in this blind and devoted loyalty of Kumbha- 
karna to the cause of his king and his country. 

Bibhishan was driven from the court with indignity, and joined the 
forces of Rama, to whom he gave much valuable information about 
Lanka and its warriors. 

The passages translated in this Book form Sections vi., viii., ix., por- 
tions of Sections xii. and xv., and the whole of Section xvi. of Book vi. of 
the original text. 


/ Ravan See\s Advice 

Monarch of the mighty Rakshas, Ravan spake to warriors all, 

Spake to gallant chiefs and princes gathered in his Council Hall : 
‘Xisten, Princes, Chiefs, and Wairiors! Hanuman our land hath seen, 
Stealing through the woods of Lanka unto Rama’s prisoned queen. 
And audacious in his purpose and resistless in his ire, 

Burnt our turret tower and temple, wasted Lanka’s town with fire! 
Speak your counsel, gallant leaders, Ravan is intent to hear. 

Triumph waits on fearless wisdom, speak your thoughts without a fear, 
Wisest monarchs act on counsel from his men for wisdom known, 
Next are they who in their wisdom and their daring act alone. 

Last, unwisest are the monarchs who nor death nor danger weigh. 
Think not, ask not friendly counsel, by their passions borne away! 
Wisest counsel comes from courtiers who in holy lore unite, 

Next, when varying plans and reasons blending lead unto the right, 

Last and worst, when stormy passions mark the hapless king’s debate, 
And his friends are disunited when his foe is at the gate! 

Therefore freely speak your counsel and your monarch’s task shall be 
But to shape in deed and action what your wisest thoughts decree. 
Speak with minds and hearts united, shape your willing monarch’s deed, 
Counsel peace, or Ravan’s forces to a war of vengeance lead, 

Ere Sugriva’s countless forces cross the vast and boundless main, 

Ere the wrathful Rama girdles Lanka with a living chain!” 



THE EPIC OF EAMA 


229 


II Prahasta's Speech 

Dark and high as summer tempest mighty-armed Prahasta rose, 
Spake in fierce and fiery accents hurling challenge on his foes; 
“Wherefore, Ravan, quails thy bosom, gods against thee strive in vain. 
Wherefore fear the feeble mortals, homeless hermits, helpless men? 
Hanuman approached in secret, stealing hke a craven spy, 

Not from one in open combat would alive the Vanar fly. 

Let him come with all his forces, to the confines of the sea 
I will chase the scattered army and thy town from foeman free! 

Not in fear and hesitation Ravan should repent his deed. 

While his gallant Raksha forces stand beside him in his need, 

Not in tears and vain repentance Sita to his consort yield, 

While his chieftains guard his empire in the battlers gory field!*’ 

Ill Durmuhhals Speech 

Durmukha of cruel visage and of fierce and angry word, 

Rose within the Council Chamber, spake to Lanka’s mighty lord: 
“Never shall the wily foeman boast of insult on us flung, 

Hanuman shall die a victim for the outrage and the wrong! 

Stealing in unguarded Lanka through thy city’s virgin gate, 

He hath courted deep disaster and a dark untimely fate, 

Stealing in the inner mansions where our dames and damsels dwell, 
Hanuman shall die a victim, — tale of shame he shall not tell! 

Need is none of Ravan’s army, bid me seek the foe alone, 

If he hides in sky or ocean or in nether regions thrown, 

Need is none of gathered forces, Ravan’s mandate I obey, 

I will smite the bold intruder and his Vanar forces slay!” 

IV V ajra-danshtra^ s Speech 

Iron-toothed Vajra-danshtra then arose in wrath and pride. 

And his blood-stained mace of battle held in fury by his side, 
“Wherefore, Ravan, waste thy forces on the foemen poor and vile, 
Hermit Rama and his brother, Hanuman of impious wile, 

Bid me,— -with this mace of battle proud Sugriva I will slay, 

Chase the helpless hermit brothers to the forests far away! 



INDIAN IMAGINATION 


230 

Or to deeper counsel listen! Varied shapes the Rakshas wear, 

Let them wearing human visage, dressed as Bharat’s troops appear, 
Succour from his ruling brother Rama will in gladness greet, 

Then with mace and blood-stained sabre we shall lay them at our feet, 
Rock and javelin and arrow we shall on our foemen hail, 

Till no poor surviving Vanar lives to tell the tragic tale!” 

V Speech of Ni\timbha and Vajra-Hanu 

Then arose the brave Nikumbha, — ^Kumbha-karna’s son was he, — 
Spake his young heart’s mighty passion in his accents bold and free: 
“Need is none, O mighty monarch, for a battle or a war, 

Bid me meet the homeless Rama and his brother wand’rmg far, 

Bid me face the proud Sugriva, Hanuman of deepest vile, 

I will rid thee of thy foemen and of Vanars poor and vile!” 

Rose the chief with jaw of iron, Vajra-hanu fierce and young. 

Licked his lips like hungry tiger with his red and lolling tongue : 
“Wherefore, monarch, dream of battle? Rakshas feed on human gore. 
Let me feast upon thy foemen by the ocean’s lonely shore, 

Rama and his hermit brother, Hanuman who hides in wood, 

Angad and the proud Sugriva soon shall be my welcome food!” 

VI Bihhishan's Warning 

Twenty warriors armed and girded in the Council Hall arose, 

Thirsting for a war of vengeance, hurling challenge on the foes, 

But Bibhishan deep in wisdom, — ^Ravan’s youngest brother he, — 

Spake the word of solemn warning, for his eye could farthest see: 
“Pardon, king and honoured elder, if Bibhishan lifts his voice 
’Gainst the wishes of the warriors and the monarch’s fatal choice, 

Firm in faith and strong in forces Rama comes with conqu’ring might, 
Vain against a righteous warrior would unrighteous Ravan fight! 
Think him not a common Vanar who transpassed the ocean wave, 
Wrecked thy city tower and temple and a sign and warning gave, 
Think him not a common hermit who Ayodhya ruled of yore, 

Crossing India’s streams and mountains, thunders now on Lanka’s shore! 
What dark deed of crime or folly hath the righteous Rama done, 

That you stole his faithful consort unprotected and alone. 



THE EPIC OF RAMA 


231 


What offence or nameless insult hath the saintly Sita given, 

She who chained in Lanka’s prison pleads in piteous tear to Heaven? 
Take my counsel, king and elder, Sita to her lord restore, 

Wipe this deed of wrong and outrage, Rama’s righteous grace implore. 
Take my counsel, Raksha monarch, vain against him is thy might, 
Doubly armed is the hero,— he who battles for the right I 
Render Sita to her Rama ere with vengeance swift and dire. 

He despoils our peopled Lanka with his bow and brand and fire, 
Render wife unto her husband ere in battle s dread array, 

Rama swoops upon thy empire like a falcon on its prey, 

Render to the lord his consort ere with blood of Rakshas slain, 

Rama soaks the land of Lanka to the margin of the main! 

Listen to my friendly counsel, — though it be I stand alone, — 

Faithful friend by fiery foeman is this Dasa-ratha’s son. 

Listen to my voice of warning, — ^Rama’s shafts are true and keen, 
Flaming like the with’ring sunbeams on the summer’s parched green. 
Listen to my soft entreaty, — righteousness becomes the brave. 

Cherish peace and cherish virtue and thy sons and daughters save!” 

VII Kumbha-\cirna's Determination 

Ravan’s brother Kumbha-karna, from his wonted slumber woke: 
Mightiest he of all the Rakshas, thus in solemn accents spoke: 

“Truly speaks the wise Bibhishan; ere he stole a hermit’s wife, 

Ravan should have thought and pondered, courted not a causeless strife, 
Ere he did this deed of folly, Ravan should have counsel sought. 

Tardy is the vain repentance when the work of shame is wrought! 

Word of wisdom timely spoken saves from death and dangers dire, 
Vam is grief for crime committed,— offerings to unholy fire, 

Vain is hero’s worth or valour if by foolish counsel led, 

Toil and labour fail and perish save when unto wisdom wed. 

And the foeman speeds in triumph o’er a heedless monarch’s might, 

As through gaps of Krauncha mountains hansas^ speed their southern 
flight! 

Ravan, thou hast sought unwisely Sita in her calm retreat, 

As the wild and heedless hunter feeds upon the poisoned meat, 

Nathless, faithful Kumbha-karna will his loyal duty know, 

He shall fight his monarch’s battle, he shall face his brother’s foe! 

^ Geese. 



INDIAN IMAGINATION 


232 

True to brother and to monarch, be he right or be he wrong, 
Kumbha-karna fights for Lanka ’gainst her foemen fierce and strong, 
Recks not if the mighty Indra and Vivasvat cross his path, 

Or the wild and stormy Maruts, Agni in his fiery wrath • 

For the Lord of Sky shall tremble when he sees my stature high. 

And he hears his thunders echoed by my loud and answering cry, 

Rama armed with ample quiver shall no second arrow send, 

Ere I slay him in the battle and his limb from limb I rend! 

Wiser heads than Kumbha-karna right and true from wrong may know, 
Faithful to his race and monarch he shall face the haughty foe, 

Joy thee in thy pleasure, Ravan, rule thy realm in regal pride. 

When I slay the hermit Rama, widowed Sita be thy bride!” 

VlII Indrapfs Assurance 

Indrajit the son of Ravan then his lofty purpose told, 

’Midst the best and boldest Rakshas none so gallant, none so bold: 
‘‘Wherefore, noble king and father, pale Bibhishan’s counsel hear, 
Scion of the race of Rakshas speaks not thus in dastard fear, 

In this race of valiant Rakshas, known for deeds of glory done, 
Feeble-hearted, faint in courage, save Bibhishan, there is none! 
Matched with meanest of the Rakshas what are sons of mortal men, 
What are homeless human brothers hiding in the hermit’s den, 

Shall we yield to weary wand’rers, driven from their distant home. 
Chased from throne and father’s kingdom in the desert woods to roam ? 
Lord of sky and nether region, Indra ’neath my weapon fell. 

Pale Immortals know my valour and my warlike deeds can tell, 

Indra’s tusker, huge Airavat, by my prowess overthrown. 

Trumpeted its anguished accents, shaking sky and earth with groan, 
Mighty God and dauntless Daityas fame of Indrajit may know, 

And he yields not, king and father, to a homeless human foe!” 

IK Rauan's Decision 

Anger swelled in Ravan’s bosom as he cast his blood-red eye 
On Bibhishan calm and fearless, and he spake in accents high: 

“Rather dwell with open foemen or in homes where cobras haunt, 
Than with faithless friends who falter and whom fears of danger daunt! 



THE EPIC OF RAMA 


233 

O, the love of near relations t— false and faithless, full of guile,— 
How they sorrow at my glory, at my danger how they smile. 

How they grieve with secret anguish when my loftier virtues shine, 
How they harbour jealous envy when deserts and fame are mine, 

How they scan with curious vision every fault that clouds my path, 
How they wait with eager longing till I fall in Fortune’s wrath! 

Ask the elephants of jungle how their captors catch and bind,— 

Not by fire and feeble weapons, but by treason of their kind,' 

Not by javelin or arrow,— little for these arms they care,— 

But their false and fondling females lead them to the hunter’s snare! 
Long as nourishment and vigour shall impart the milk of cow. 

Long as woman shall be changeful, hermits holy in their vow, 

Aye, so long shall near relations hate us m their inner mind, 

Mark us with a secret envy though their words be ne’er so kind! 
Rain-drops fall upon the lotus but unmingling hang apart, 

False relations round us gather but they blend not heart with heart. 
Winter clouds are big with thunder but they shed no freshening rain. 
False relations smile and greet us but their soothing words are vain. 
Bees are tempted by the honey but from flower to flower they range. 
False relations share our favour but in secret seek a change! 

Lying is thy speech, Bibhishan, secret envy lurks within. 

Thou wouldst rule thy elder’s empire, thou wouldst wed thy elder’s 
queen. 

Take thy treason to the foemen,— brother’s blood I may not shed,— 
Other Raksha craven-hearted by my royal hands had bled!” 

X Bibhishan' s Departure 

“This to me!” Bibhishan answered, as with fiery comrades four, 

Rose in arms the wrathful Raksha and in fury rushed before, 

“But I spare thee, royal Ravan, angry words thy lips have passed. 

False and lying and unfounded is the censure thou hast cast! 

True Bibhishan sought thy safety, strove to save his elder’s reign,— 
Speed thee now to thy destruction since all counsel is in vain, 

Many are thy smiling courtiers who with honeyed speech beguile, 

Few are they with true and candour speak their purpose void of guile! 
Blind to reason and to wisdom, Ravan, seef^ thy destined fate, 

For thy impious lust of woman, jot thy dar\ unrighteous hate. 



234 INDIAN IMAGINATION 

Blind to danger and destruction, deaf to word of counsel gii/en. 

By the flaming shafts of Rama thou shalt die by will of Heat/enl 
Yet, 01 yet, my king and elder, let me plead with latest breath, 
'Gainst the death of race and \insmen, 'gainst my lord and brother s 
death, 

Ponder yet, 0 Rakjha monarch, save thy race and save thy own, 
Ravan, part we now for ever, — guard thy ancient sea-girt throne!'' 


BOOKX YUDDHA 
{The War in Ceylon) 

Rama crossed over with his army from India to Ceylon. There is a chain 
of islands across the strait, and the Indian poet supposes them to be the 
remains of a vast causeway which Rama built to cross over with his army. 

The town of Lanka, the capital of Ceylon, was invested, and the war 
which followed was a succession of sallies by the great leaders and princes 
of Lanka. But almost every sally was repulsed, every chief was killed, and 
at last Ravan himself who made the last sally was slain and the war ended. 

Among the numberless fights described in the original work, those of 
Ravan himself, his brother Kumbha-karna, and his son Indrajit, are the 
most important, and oftenest recited and listened to in India; and these 
have been rendered into English in this Book. And the reader will mark 
a certain method in the poet’s estimate of the warriors who took part in 
these battles. 

First and greatest among the warriors was Rama;- he was never beaten 
by an open foe, never conquered in fair fight. Next to him, and to him 
only, was Ravan the monarch of Lanka; he twice defeated Lakshman 
in battle, and never retreated except before Rama. Next to Rama and to 
Ravan stood their brothers, Lakshman and Kumbha-karna; it is difficult 
to say who was the best of these two, for they fought only once, and it 
was a drawn battle. Fifth in order of prowess was Indrajit the son of 
Ravana, but he was the first in his magic art. Concealed in mists by his 
magic, he twice defeated both Rama and Lakshman; but in his last battle 
he Ixad to face combat with Lakshman, and was slain. After these five 
warriors, pre-eminent for their prowess, various Vanars and Rakshas 
took their rank. 

The war ended with the fall of Ravan and his funerals. The portions 
translated in this Book form the whole or portions of Sections xliv., xlviii,. 



THE EPIC OF RAMA 


235 

lix., Ixvi., Ixvii., and Ixxiii., an abstract of Sections Ixxv. to xci,, and por- 
tions of Sections xciii., xcvi., ci., cii., cm., cix., cx., and cxiii. of Book vi. 
of the original text. 

I In dr apt* s First Battle — T he Serpent-Noose 

Darkly round the leaguered city Rama’s countless forces lay, 

Far as Ravan cast his glances in the dawning light of day, 

Wrath and anguish shook his bosom and the gates he opened wide, 
And with ranks of charging Rakshas sallied with a Raksha’s pride! 

All the day the battle lasted, endless were the tale to tell, 

What unnumbered Vanars perished and what countless Rakshas fell, 
Darkness came, the fiery foemen urged the still unceasing fight, 
Struggling with a deathless hatred fiercer in the gloom of night! 
Onward came resistless Rakshas, laid Sugriva’s forces low, 

Crushed the broken ranks of Vanars, drank the red blood of the foe, 
Bravely fought the scattered Vanars facing still the tide of war, 
Struggling with the charging tusker and the steed and battle car, 

Till at last the gallant Lakshman and the godlike Rama came, 

And they swept the hosts of Ravan like a sweeping forest flame, 

And their shafts like hissing serpents on the falt’rmg foemen fell, 
Fiercer grew the sable midnight with the dying shriek and yell! 

Dust arose like clouds of summer from each thunder-sounding car, 
From the hoofs of charging coursers, from the elephants of war, 

Streams of red blood warm and bubbling issued from the countless slain. 
Flooded battle’s dark arena like the floods of summer rain, 

Sound of trumpet and of bugle, drum and horn and echoing shell. 

And the neigh of charging coursers and the tuskers’ dying wail. 

And the yell of wounded Rakshas and the Vanars’ fierce delight. 

Shook the earth and sounding welkin, waked the echoes of the night! 

Six bright arrows Rama thundered from his weapon dark and dread. 
Iron-toothed Vajra-dranshtra and his fainting comrades fled, 

Dauntless still the serried Rakshas, wave on wave succeeding came, 
Perished under Rama’s arrows as the moths upon the flame! 

Indrajit the son of Ravan, Lanka’s glory and her pride, 

Matchless in his magic weapons came and turned the battle’s tide, 

What though Angad in his fury had his steeds and driver slayed, 
Indrajit hid in the midnight battled from its friendly shade, 



INDIAN IMAGINATION 


236 

Shrouded in a cloud of darkness still he poured his darts like rain. 

On young Lakshman and on Rama and on countless Vanars slain, 
Matchless in his magic weapons, then he hurled his Naga ""-dart, 

Serpent noose upon his foemen draining lifeblood from their heart! 
Vainly then the royal brothers fought the cloud-enshrouded foe, 

Vainly sought the unseen warrior dealing unresisted blow, 

Fastened by a noose of Naga ^ forced by hidden foe to yield. 

Rama and the powerless Lakshman fell and fainted on the field! 

II Sitas Lament 

Indrajit ere dawned the morning entered in his father’s hall, 

Spake of midnight’s darksome contest, Rama’s death and Lakshman’s 
fall, 

And the proud and peerless Ravan clasped his brave and gallant son. 
Praised him for his skill and valour and his deed of glory done, 

And with dark and cruel purpose bade his henchmen yoke his car, 

Bade them take the sorrowing Sita to the gory field of war! 

Soon they harnessed royal coursers and they took the weeping wife. 
Where her Rama, pierced and bleeding, seemed bereft of sense and life, 
Brother lay beside his brother with their shattered mail and bow. 
Arrows thick and dark with red blood spake the conquest of the foe. 
Anguish woke in Sita’s bosom and a dimness filled her eye, 

And a widow’s nameless sorrow burst in widow’s mournful cry: 
“Rama, lord and king and husband! didst thou cross the billowy sea, 
Didst thou challenge death and danger, court thy fate to rescue me, 
Didst thou hurl a fitting vengeance on the cruel Raksha force. 

Till the hand of hidden foeman checked thy all-resistless course? 
Breathes upon the earth no warrior who could face thee in the fight. 
Who could live to boast his triumph o’er thy world-subduing might. 

But the will of Fate is changeless, Death is mighty in his sway, — 
Peerless Rama, faithful Lakshman, sleep the sleep that knows no day! 
But I weep not for my Rama nor for Lakshman young and brave. 

They have done a warrior’s duty and have found a warrior’s grave, 
And I weep not for my sorrows, — sorrow marked me from my birth, — 
Child of Earth I seek in suffering bosom of my mother Earth! 

But I grieve for dear Kausalya, sonless mother, widowed queen. 

How she reckons day and seasons in her anguish ever green, 

^ A snake j name <?£ a tribe. 



THE EPIC OF RAMA 


237 

How she waits with eager longing till her Rama’s exile o’er, 

He would soothe her lifelong sorrow, bless her aged eyes once more, 
Sita’s love! Ayodhya’s monarch! Queen Kausalya’s dearest born! 

Rama soul of truth and virtue sleeps the sleep that knows no morn!” 
Sorely wept the sorrowing Sita in her accents soft and low, 

And the silent stars of midnight wept to witness Sita’s woe. 

But Trijata her companion,— though a Raksha woman she,— 

Felt her soul subdued by sadness, spake to Sita tenderly; 

“Weep not, sad and saintly Sita, shed not widow’s tears in vain, 

For thy lord is sorely wounded, but shall live to fight again, 

Rama and the gallant Lakshman, fainting, not bereft of life. 

They shall live to fight and conquer, — thou shalt be a happy wife, 

Mark the Vanars’ marshalled forces, listen to their warlike cries, 

’Tis not thus the soldiers gather when a chief and hero dies, 

’Tis not thus round lifeless leader muster warriors true and brave, 

For when falls the dying helmsman, sinks the vessel in the wave! 

Mark the ring of hopeful Vanars, how they watch o’er Rama’s face. 
How they guard the younger Lakshman beaming yet with living grace, 
Trust me, sad and sorrowing Sita, marks of death these eyes can trace, 
Shade of death’s decaying fingers sweeps not o’er thy Rama’s face! 
Listen more, my gentle Sita, though a captive in our keep. 

For thy woes and for thy anguish see a Raksha woman weep. 

Though thy Rama armed in battle is our unrelenting foe. 

For a true and stainless warrior see a Raksha filled with woe! 

Fainting on the field of battle, blood-ensanguined in their face, 

They shall live to fight and conquer, worthy of their gallant race. 

Cold nor rigid are their features, darkness dwells not on their brow, 
Weep not thus, my gentle Sita, — chasten we to Lanka now.” 

And Trijata spake no falsehood, by the winged Garuda’s skill, 

Rama and the valiant Lakshman lived to fight their foemen still! 

Ill Ravans First Battle’— The Javelin-Stro\e 

’Gainst the God-assisted Rama, Ravan’s efforts all were vain, 

Leaguered Lanka vainly struggled in her adamantine chain. 

Wrathful Rakshas with their forces vainly issued through the gate, 
Chiefs and serried ranks of warriors met the same resistless fate! 
Dark-eyed chief Dhumraksha sallied with the fierce tornado’s shock, 
Hanuman of peerless prowess slayed him with a rolling rock, 



23S INDIAN IMAGINATION 

Iron-toothed Vajra-danshtra dashed through countless Vanars slain, 

But the young and gallant Angad laid him lifeless on the plain, 
Akampan unshaken warrior issued out of Lanka’s wall, 

Hanuman was true and watchful, speedy was the Raksha’s fall, 

Then the mighty-armed Prahasta strove to break the hostile line, 

But the gallant Nila felled him as the woodman fells the pine! 
Bravest chiefs and countless soldiers sallied forth to face the fight, 
Broke not Rama’s iron circle, ’scraped not Rama’s wondrous might, 
Ravan could no longer tarry, for his mightiest chiefs were slam. 
Foremost leaders, dearest kinsmen, lying on the gory plain! 

“Lofty scorn of foes unworthy spared them from my flaming ire, 

But the blood of slaughtered kinsmen claims from me a vengeance dire,” 
Speaking thus the wrathful Ravan mounted on his thundering car, 
Flame-resplendent was the chariot drawn by matchless steeds of war! 
Beat of drum and voice of san\ha^ and the Raksha’s battle cry, 

Song of triumph, chanted mantra, smote the echoing vault of sky, 

And the troops like cloudy masses with their eyes of lightning fire 
Girt their monarch, as his legions girdle Rudra in his ire! 

Rolled the car with peal of thunder through the city’s lofty gate, 

And each fierce and fiery Raksha charged with warrior’s deathless hate, 
And the vigour of the onset cleft the stunned and scattered foe, 

As a strong bark cleaves the billows riding on the ocean’s brow! 

Brave Sugriva king.of Vanars met the foeman fierce and strong, 

And a rock with mighty effort on the startled Ravan flung. 

Vain the toil, disdainful Ravan dashed aside the flying rock, 

Brave Sugriva pierced by arrows fainted neath the furious shock. 

Next Susena chief and elder, Nala and Gavaksha bold. 

Hurled them on the path of Ravan speeding in his car of gold. 

Vainly heaved the rock and missile, vainly did with trees assail. 

Onward sped the conquering Ravan, pierced the fainting Vanars fell. 
Hanuman the son of Marut next against the Raksha came, 

Fierce and strong as stormy Marut, warrior of unrivalled fame, 

But the Raksha’s mighty onset gods nor mortals might sustain, 
Hanuman in red blood welt’ring rolled upon the gory plain. 

Onward rolled the car of Ravan, where the dauntless Nila stood. 

Armed with rock and tree and missile, thirsting for the Raksha’s blood, 
Vainly fought the valiant Nila, pierced by Ravan’s pointed dart, 

On the gory field of battle poured the red blood of his heart. 

^ Conch-shell, used as bugle in war and festivities. 



THE EPIC OF RAMA 


239 

Onward through the scattered forces Ravan’s conquering chariot came, 
Where in pride and dauntless valour Lakshman stood of warlike fame, 
Calm and proud the gallant Lakshman marked the all-resistless foe, 
Boldly challenged Lanka’s monarch as he held aloft his bow: 
“Welcome, mighty Lord of Lanka! wage with me an equal strife. 
Wherefore with thy royal prowess seek the humble Vanars’ life!” 

“Hath thy fate,” so answered Ravan, “brought thee to thy deadly foe, 
Welcome, valiant son of Raghu! Ravan longs to lay thee low!” 

Then they closed m dubious battle, Lanka’s Lord his weapon bent, 
Seven bright arrows, keen and whistling, on the gallant Lakshman sent, 
Vain the toil, for watchful Lakshman stout of heart and true of aim, 
With his darts like shooting sunbeams cleft each arrow as it came. 
Bleeding from the darts of Lakshman, pale with anger, wounded sore, 
Ravan drew at last his Sa\til gift of Gods in days of yore, 

Javelin of flaming splendour, deadly like the shaft of Fate, 

Ravan hurled on dauntless Lakshman in his fierce and furious hate. 
Vain were Lakshman’s human weapons aimed with skill directed well, 
Pierced by Sa^ti, gallant Lakshman in his red blood fainting fell, 
Wrathful Rama saw the combat and arose in godlike might, 

Bleeding Ravan turned to Lanka, sought his safety in his flight, 

IV Fall of Kumbha-Karna 

Once more healed and strong and valiant, Lakshman in his arms arose. 
Safe behind the gates of Lanka humbled Ravan shunned his foes, 

Till the stalwart Kumbha-karna from his wonted slumbers woke, 
Mightiest he of all the Rakshas; — ^Ravan thus unto him spoke: 

“Thou alone, O Kumbha-karna, can the Raksha’s honour save. 
Strongest of the Raksha warriors, stoutest-hearted midst the brave, 
Speed thee like the Dread Destroyer to the dark and dubious fray, 
Cleave through Rama’s girdling forces, chase the scattered foe away!” 
Like a mountain’s beetling turret Kumbha-karna stout and tall, 

Passed the city’s lofty portals and the city’s girdling wall, 

And he raised his voice in battle, sent his cry from shore to shore. 

Solid mountains shook and trembled and the sea returned the roar! 
Indra nor the great Varuna equalled Kumbha-karna’s might, 

Vanars trembled at the warrior, sought their safety in their flight, 

^ Javelin. 



240 INDIAN IMAGINATION 

But the prince of fdir Kishkindha, Angad chief of warlike fame. 
Marked his panic-stricken forces with a princely warrior’s shame. 
‘‘Wither fly, ye trembling Vanars?” thus the angry chieftain cried, 
“All forgetful of your duty, of your worth and warlike pride, 

Deem not stalwart Kumbha-karna is our match m open fight. 
Forward let us meet m battle, let us crush his giant might!” 

Rallied thus, the broken army stone and tree and massive rock. 

Hurled upon the giant Raksha speeding with the lightning’s shock. 
Vain each flying rock and missile, vain each stout and sturdy stroke. 
On the Raksha’s limbs of iron stone and tree in splinters broke. 
Dashing through the scattered forces Kumbha-karna fearless stood, 

As a forest conflagration feasts upon the parched wood. 

Far as confines of the ocean, to the causeway they had made, 

To the woods or caves or billows, Vanars in their terror fled! 
Hanuman of dauntless valour turned not in his fear nor fled, 

Heaved a rock with mighty effort on the Raksha’s towering head, 
With his spear-head Kumbha-karna dashed the flying rock aside. 

By the Raksha’s weapon stricken Hanuman fell in his pride. 

Next Rishabha and brave Nila and the bold Sarabha came, 
Gavaksha and Gandha-madan, chieftains of a deathless fame, 

But the spear of Kumbha-karna hurled to earth his feeble foes, 
Dreadful vyas the field of carnage, loud the cry of battle rose! 

Angad prince of fair Kishkindha, filled with anger and with shame. 
Tore a rock with wrathful prowess, to the fatal combat came, 

Short the combat, soon the Raksha caught and turned his foe around 
Hurled him in his deadly fury, bleeding, senseless on the ground! 
Last, Sugriva king of Vanars with a vengeful anger woke. 

Tore a rock from bed of mountain and in proud defiance spoke, 
Vain Sugriva’s toil and struggle, Kumbha-karna hurled a rock, 

Fell Sugriva crushed and senseless ’neath the missile’s mighty shock! 
Piercing through the Vanar forces, like a flame through forest wood, 
Came the Raksha where in glory Lakshman calm and fearless stood, 
Short their contest, — ^Kumbha-karna sought a greater, mightier foe. 
To the young and dauntless Lakshman spake in accents soft and low: 
“Dauntless prince and matchless warrior, fair Sumitra’s gallant son, 
Thou hast proved unrivalled prowess and unending glory won, 

But I seek a mightier foeman, to thy elder let me go, 

I would fight the royal Rama, or to die or slay my foe!” 



THE EPIC OF RAMA 


241 

''Victor froudl*' said gallant La\shman, "peerless in thy giant might, 
Conquerer of great Immortals, La\shman owns thy shill in fight. 
Mightier joe than bright Immortals thou shah meet in fatal war, 
Death for thee in guise of Rama tarries yonder, not afarF' 

111 it fared with Kumbha-karna when he strove with Rama’s might, 
Men on earth nor Gods immortal conquered Rama in the fight, 
Deadly arrows keen and flaming from the hero’s weapon broke, 
Kumbha-karna faint and bleeding felt his death at every stroke, 

Last, an arrow pierced his armour, from his shoulders smote his head^ 
Kumbha-karna, lifeless, headless, rolled upon the gory bed, 

Hurled unto the heaving ocean Kumbha-karna’s body fell, 

And as shaken by a tempest, mighty was the ocean’s swell! 

V Indrajit's Sacrifice and Second Battle 

Still around beleaguered Lanka girdled Rama’s living chain, 

Raksha chieftain after chieftain strove to break the line in vain. 

Sons of Ravan, — ^brave Narantak was by valiant Angad slain, 

Trisiras and fierce Devantak, Hanuman slew on the plain, 

Atikaya, tall of stature, was by gallant Lakshman killed, 

Ravan wept for slaughtered princes, brave in war in weapons skilled. 
“Shed no tears of sorrow, father!” Indrajit exclaimed in pride, 

“While thy eldest son surviveth triumph dwells on Ravan’s side, 
Rama and that stripling Lakshman, I had left them in their gore. 
Once again I seek dieir lifeblood, — ^they shall live to fight no more. 
Hear my vow, O Lord of Rakshas! ere descends yon radiant sun, 
Rama’s days and gallant Lakshman’s on this wide earth shall be done, 
Witness Indra and Vivaswat, Vishnu great and Rudra dire. 

Witness Sun and Moon and Sadhyas, and the living God of Fire!” 
Opened wide the gates of Lanka; in the spacious field of war, 

Indrajit arranged his army, foot and horse and battle car. 

Then with gifts and sacred mantrashtvix. before the God of Fire, 

And invoked celestial succour in the battle dread and dire. 

With his offerings and his garlands, Indrajit with spices rare, 
Worshipped holy Vaiswa-nara on the altar bright and fair, 

Spear and mace were ranged in order, dart and bow and shining blade 
Sacred fuel, blood-red garments, fragrant flowers were duly laid, 
Head of goat asl^lack as midnight offered then the warrior brave. 

And the shooting tongue of red fire omens of a conquest gave, 



INDIAN IMAGINATION 


242 

Curling to the right and smokeless, red and bright as molten gold, 
Tongue of flame received the offering of the hero true and bold! 
Victory the sign betokens! Bow and dart and shining blade, 

Sanctified by holy mantras, by the Fire the warrior laid, 

Then with weapons consecrated, hid in mists as once before, 

Indrajit on helpless foemen did his fatal arrows pour! 

Fled the countless Vanar forces, panic-stricken, crushed and slain. 

And the dead and dying warriors strewed the gory battle plain, 

Then on Rama, and on Lakshman, from his dark and misty shroud, 
Indrajit discharged his arrows bright as sunbeams through a cloud. 
Scanning earth and bright sky vainly for his dark and hidden foe, 
Rama to his brother Lakshman spake in grief and spake in woe: 

“Once again that wily Raksha, slaying all our Vanar train. 

From his dark and shadowy shelter doth on us his arrows rain. 

By the grace of great Swayambhu, Indrajit is lost to sight, 

Useless is our human weapon ’gainst his gift of magic might, 

If Swayambhu wills it, Lakshman, we shall face these fatal darts. 

We shall stand with dauntless patience, we shall die with dauntless 
hearts!” 

Weaponless but calm and valiant, from the foeman’s dart and spell 
Patiently the princes suffered, fearlessly the heroes fell! 

VI Indrajifs Third Battle and Fall 

Healing herbs from distant mountains Hanuman in safety brought, 
Rama rose and gallant Lakshman, once again their foemen sought. 

And when night its sable mantle o’er the earth and ocean drew. 

Forcing through the gates of Lanka to the frightened city flew! 

Gallant sons of Kumbha-karna vainly fought to stem the tide, 
Hanuman and brave Sugriva slew the brothers in their pride, 
Makaraksha, shark-eyed warrior, vainly struggled with the foe, 

Rama laid him pierced and lifeless by an arrow from his bow. 

Indrajit arose in anger for his gallant kinsmen slayed, 

In his arts and deep devices Sita’s beauteous image made, 

And he placed the form of beauty on his speeding battle car. 

With his sword he smote the image in the gory field of war! 

Rama heard the fatal message which his faithful Vanars gave, 

And a deathlike trance and tremor fell upon the warrior brave, 



THE EPIC OF RAMA 


243 


But Bibhishan deep in wisdom to the anguished Rama came, 

With his words of consolation spake of Rama’s righteous dame: 

“Trust me, Rama, trust thy comrade, — ^for I know our wily house, — 
Indrajit slays not the woman whom his father seeks as spouse, 

’Tis for Sita, impious Ravan meets thee on the battle-field. 

Stakes his life and throne and empire, but thy Sita will not yield. 

Deem not that the king of Rakshas will permit her blood be shed, 
Indrajit slays not the woman whom his father seeks to wed! 

’Twas an image of thy Sita, Indrajit hath cleft in twain. 

While our army wails and sorrows, — ^he performs his rites again, 

To the holy Nikumbhila, Indrajit in secret hies. 

For the rights which yield him prowess, hide him in the cloudy skies. 
Let young Lakshman seek the foeman ere his magic rites be done, — 
Once the sacrifice completed, none can combat Ravan’s son, — 

Let young Lakshman speed through Lanka till his wily foe is found. 
Slay the secret sacrificer on the sacrificial ground!” 

Unto holy Nikumbhila, Lakshman with Bibhishan went 
Bravest, choicest of the army, Rama with his brother sent. 

Magic rites and sacrifices Indrajit had scarce begun, 

When surprised by armed foemen rose in anger Ravan’s son! 

“Art thou he,” thus to Bibhishan, Indrajit in anger spake, 

“Brother of my loyal father, stealing thus my life to take, 

Raksha born of Raksha parents, dost thou glory in this deed, 

Traitor to thy king and kinsmen, false to us in direst need? 

Scorn and pity fill my bosom thus to see thee leave thy km. 

Serving as a slave of foemen, stooping to a deed of sin. 

For the slave who leaves his kindred, basely seeks the foeman’s grace, 
Meets destruction from the foeman after he destroys his race!” 
“Untaught child of impure passions,” thus Bibhishan answer made, 

“Of my righteous worth unconscious bitter accents hast thou said, 
Know, proud youth, that Truth and Virtue in my heart precedence take. 
And we shun the impious kinsman as we shun the pois’nous snake! 
Listen, youth! this earth no longer bears thy father's sin and strife, 
Plunder of the righteous neighbour, passion for the neighbours wife. 
Earth and s\ies have doomed thy father for his sin-polluted reign, 

Unto Gods his proud defiance and his wrongs to sons of men! 

Listen more! this fated Lan\a groans beneath her load of crime. 

And shall perish in her folly by the ruthless hand of Time, 



INDIAN IMAGINATION 


244 

Thou shalt perish and thy jathei' and this proud presumptuous state, 
ha\shman meets thee, iinpious Rahjha, by the stern decree of Fate!'" 
“Hast thou too forgot the lesson,” Indrajit to Lakshman said, 

“Twice in field of war unconscious thee with Rama have I laid. 

Dost thou stealing like a serpent brave my yet unconquered might, 
Perish, boy, in thy presumption, in this last and fatal fight!” 

Spake the hero : “Like a coward hid beneath a mantling cloud, 

Thou hast battled like a caitiff safe behind thy sheltering shroud. 

Now I seek an open combat, time is none to prate or speak. 

Boastful word is coward’s weapon, weapons and thy arrows seek!” 
Soon they mixed in dubious combat, fury fired each foeman’s heart, 
Either warrior felt his rival worthy of his bow and dart, 

Lakshman with his hurtling arrows pierced the Raksha’s golden mail. 
Shattered by the Raksha’s weapons Lakshman’s useless armour fell. 
Red with gore and dim in eyesight still the chiefs in fury fought, 
Neither quailed before his foeman, pause nor grace nor mercy sought. 
Till with more than human valour Lakshman drew his bow amain, 
Slayed the Raksha’s steeds and driver, severed too his bow in twain. 
“If the great and godlike Rama is in faith and duty true, 

Gods assist the cause of virtue!” — ^Lakshman uttered as he drew, 

Fatal was the dart unerring,— Gods assist the true and bold, — 

On the field of Nikumbhila, Lakshman’s foeman headless rolled! 

VIl Ravan's Lament 

“Quenched the light of Rakshas’ valour!” so the message-bearer said, 
“Lakshman with the deep Bibhishan hath thy son m battle slayed, 
Fallen is our prince and hero and his day on earth is done, 

In a brighter world, O monarch, lives thy brave, thy gallant son!” 
Anguish filled the father’s bosom and his fleeting senses failed, 

Till to deeper sorrow wakened Lanka’s monarch wept and wailed: 
“Greatest of my gallant warriors, dearest to thy father’s heart, 

Victor over bright Immortals, — art thou slain by Lakshman’s dart, 
Noble prince whose peerless arrows could the peaks of Mandar stain. 
And could daunt the Dread Destroyer, — art thou by a mortal slain? 

But thy valour lends a radiance to elysium^s sunny clime, 

And thy bright name adds a lustre to the glorious rolls of time, 

In the skies the bright Immortals lisp thy name with terror pale, 

On the earth our maids and matrons mourn thy fall with piercing wail! 



THE EPIC OF RAMA 245 

Hark! the voice of lamentation waking in the palace halls, 

Like the voice of woe in forests when the forest monarch falls, 

Hark! the wailing widowed princess, mother weeping for her son. 
Leaving them in tears and anguish, Indrajit, where are thou gone? 

Full of years, — so oft I pondered, — ^when the monarch Ravan dies, 
Indrajit shall watch his bedside, Indrajit shall close his eyes, 

But the course of nature changes, and the father weeps the son, 

Youth is fallen, and the aged lives to fight the foe alone*” 

Tears of sorrow, slow and silent, fell upon the monarch’s breast. 

Then a swelling rage and passion woke within his heaving chest. 

Like the sun of scorching summer glowed his face in wrathful shame, 
From his brow and rolling eyeballs issued sparks of living flame! 
“Perish she!” exclaimed the monarch, “she-wolf Sita dies to-day, 
Indrajit but cleft her image, Ravan will the woman slay!” 

Followed by his trembling courtiers, regal robes and garments rent, 
Ravan shaking in his passion to Asol^a's garden went. 

Maddened by his wrath and anguish, with his drawn and flaming sword, 
Sought the shades where soft-eyed Sita silent sorrowed for her lord. 
Woman’s blood the royal sabre on that fatal day had stained. 

But his true and faithful courtiers Ravan’s wrathful hand restrained. 
And the watchful Raksha females girdled round the sorrowing dame. 
Flung them on the path of Ravan to withstand a deed of shame. 

“Not against a woman, Ravan, mighty warriors raise their hand. 

In the battle,” spake the courtiers, “duty bids thee use thy brand. 

Versed in Vedas and in learning, court not thus a caitiff’s fate. 
Woman’s blood pollutes our valour, closes heaven’s eternal gate! 

Leave the woman in her sorrow, mount upon thy battle car, 

Faithful to our king and leader we will wake the voice of war, 

’Tis the fourteenth day auspicious of the dark and waning moon, 

Glory waiteth thee in battle and thy vengeance cometh soon. 
All-resistless in the contest slay thy foeman in his pride. 

Seek as victor of the combat widowed Sita as thy bride!” 

Slow and sullen, dark and silent, Ravan then his wrath restrained, 
Vengeance on his son’s destroyer deep within his bosom reigned L 

VIII Ravan's Second Battle and Vengeance 

Voice of woe and lamentation and the cry of woman’s wail, 

Issuing from the homes of Lanka did the monarch’s ears assail, 



INDIAN IMAGINATION 


246 

And a mighty thought of vengeance waked within the monarch’s hearts 
And he heaved a sigh of anguish as he grasped his bow and dart : 

“Arm each chief and gallant Raksha! be our sacred duty done, 

Ravan seeks a fitting vengeance for his brave and noble son, 

Mahodar and Virupaksha, Mahaparshwa warrior tall, 

Arm! this fated day will witness Lakshman’s or your monarch’s fall! 
Call to mind each slaughtered hero, — Khara, Dushan, slain in fight, 
Kumbha-karna giant warrior, Indrajit of magic might. 

Earth nor sky shall hide my foemen nor the ocean’s heaving swell, 
Scattered ranks of Rama’s forces shall my speedy vengeance tell. 

Be the red-earth strewn and covered with our countless foemen slain. 
Hungry wolves and blood-beaked vultures feed upon the ghastly plain, 
For his great and gallant brother, for his brave and beauteous son, 
Ravan seeks a fitting vengeance, Rakshas be your duty done!” 

House to house, in Lanka’s city, Ravan’s royal best was heard. 

Street and lane poured forth their warriors by a mighty passion stirred, 
With the javelin and sabre, mace and club and axe and pike, 

Sataghni^ and bhtndipala^ discus quick to strike. 

And they formed the line of tuskers and the line of battle car, 

Mule and camel fit for burden and the fiery steed of war. 

Serried ranks of armed soldiers shook the earth beneath their tread, 
Horsemen that on wings of lightning o*er the field of battle spread. 
Drum and conch and sounding trumpet waked the echoes of the sky, 
Pataha^ dind loud mridanga^ and the people’s maddening cry. 
Thundering through the gates of Lanka, Ravan’s lofty chariot passed 
Destined by his fortune, Ravan ne’er again those portals crostl 
And the sun was dim and clouded and a sudden darkness fell, 

Birds gave forth their boding voices and the earth confessed a spell. 
Gouts of blood in rain descended, startled coursers turned to fly. 
Vultures swooped upon the banner, jackals yelled their doleful cry, 
Omens of a dark disaster mantled o’er the vale and rock, 

And the ocean heaved in billows, nations felt the earthquake shock! 
Darkly closed the fatal battle, sturdy Vanars fell in fight, 
Warlike^leaders of the Rakshas perished neath the foeman’s might, 
Mahodhar and Virupaksha were by bold Sugriva slain, 

Crushed by Angad, Mahaparshwa slumbered lifeless on the plain, 

^ A weapon of war, supposed to kill a hundred men at one discharge. 

®A weapon of war. ® A drum. *A drum. 



THE EPIC OF RAMA 


247 


But with more than mortal valour Ravan swept the ranks of war, 
Warriors fell beneath his prowess, fled before his mighty car, 

Cleaving through the Vanar forces, filled with vengeance deep and dire, 
Ravan marked the gallant Lakshman flaming like a crimson fire! 

Like the tempest cloud of summer Ravan’s winged courses flew. 

But Bibhishan in his prowess soon the gallant charges slew, 

Dashing from his useless chariot Ravan leaped upon the ground, 

And his false and traitor brother by his dearest foeman found! 
Wrathful Ravan marked Bibhishan battling by the foeman s side, 

And he hurled his ponderous weapon for to slay him in his pride. 
Lakshman marked the mighty jav’lin as it winged its whizzing flight. 
Cleft it in Its onward passage, saved Bibhishan by his might! 

Grimly smiled the angry Ravan gloating in his vengeful wrath, 

Spake to young and dauntless Lakshman daring thus to cross his path : 
“Welcome, Lakshman! thee I battle for thy deed of darkness done, 

Face the anger of a father, cruel slayer of the son. 

By thy skill and by thy valour, false Bibhishan thou hast saved. 

Save thyself! Deep in this bosom is a cruel grief engraved!” 

Father’s grief and sad remembrance urged the lightning-winged dart, 
Ravan’s Sa\ti fell resistless on the senseless Lakshman’s heart. 

Wrathful Rama saw the combat and arose in godlike might, 

Carless, steedless, wounded Ravan sought his safety in his flight. 

IX Ramas Lament 

“Art thou fallen,” sorrowed Rama, “weary of this endless strife, 
Lakshman, if thy days are ended, Rama recks not for his life. 

Gone IS Rama’s wonted valour, weapons leave his nerveless hand. 

Drop his bow and shining arrows, useless hangs his sheathed brand! 

Art thou fallen, gallant Lakshman, death and faintness on me creep. 
Weary of this fatal contest let me by my brother sleep, 

Weary of the strife and triumph, since my faithful friend is gone, 

Rama follows in his footsteps and his task on earth is done! 

Thou hast from the far Ayodhya, followed me in deepest wood, 

In the thickest of the battle thou hast by thy elder stood. 

Love of woman, love of comrade, trite is love of kith and kind. 

Love like thine, true-hearted brother, not on earth we often find! 
When Sumitra seeks thee, Lakshman, ever weeping for thy sake, 

When she asks me of her hero, what reply shall Rama make, 



INDIAN IMACINATION 


248 

What reply, when Bharat questions, — ^Where is he who went to wood. 
Where is true and faithful Lakshman who beside his elder stood ? 

What great crime or fatal shadow darkens o’er my hapless life. 

Victim to the sins of Rama sinless Lakshman falls in strife. 

Best of brothers, best of warriors, wherefore thus unconscious lie, 
Mother, wife, and brother wait thee, ope once more thy sleeping eye!” 
Tara’s father, wise Susena, gentle consolation lent, 

Hanuman from distant mountains herbs of healing virtue rent. 

And by loving Rama tended, Lakshman in his strength arose. 

Stirred by thoughts of fatal vengeance Rama sought the flying foes. 

X Celestial Arms and Chariot 

Not in dastard terror Ravan sought his safety in his flight, 

But to seek fresh steeds of battle ere he faced his foeman’s might. 
Harnessing his gallant coursers to a new and glorious car, 

Sunlike in its radiant splendour, Ravan came once more to war. 

Gods in wonder watched the contest of the more than mortal foes, 
Ravan mighty in his vengeance, Rama lofty in his woes, 

Gods in wonder marked the heroes, lion-like in jungle wood, 

Indra sent his arms and chariot where the human warrior stood! 

Speed, Matali!^ thus spal{e Indra, speed thee with my heavenly car, 
Where on foot the righteous Rama meets his mounted foe in war. 
Speed, for Ravan s days are ended, and his moments brief and few, 
Rama strives for right and virtue, — Gods assist the brave and true^ 
Brave Matali drove the chariot drawn by steeds like solar ray. 

Where the true and righteous Rama sought his foe in fatal fray, 
Shining arms and heavenly weapons he to lofty Rama gave, — 

When the righteous strive and struggle, God assist the true and brave! 
“Take this car,” so said Matali, “which the helping Gods provide, 
Rama, take these steeds celestial, Indra’s golden chariot ride, 

Take this royal bow and quiver, wear this falchion dread and dire, 
Viswa-karman forged this armour in the flames of heavenly fire, 

I shall be thy chariot driver and shall speed the thund’ring car, 

Slay the sin-polluted Ravan in this last and fatal war!” 

Rama mounted on the chariot clad in arms of heavenly sheen, 

And he mingled in a contest mortal eyes have never seen! 



THE EPIC OF RAMA 


249 


XI Ravans Third Battle and Fall 

Gods and mortals watched the contest and the heroes of the war, 

Ravan speeding on his chariot, Rama on the heavenly car, 

And a fiercer form the warriors in their fiery frenzy wore, 

And a deeper weight of hatred on their anguished bosoms bore. 

Clouds of dread and deathful arrows hid the radiant face of sky, 
Darker grew the day of combat, fiercer grew the contest high! 

Pierced by Ravan’s pointed weapons bleeding Rama owned no pain, 
Rama’s arrows keen and piercing sought his foeman’s life in vain, 
Long and dubious battle lasted, and with fury wilder fraught, 
Wounded, faint, and still unyielding, blind with wrath the rivals fought. 
Pike and club and mace and trident scaped from Ravan’s vengeful hand, 
Spear and arrows Rama wielded, and his bright and flaming brand! 
Long and dubious battle lasted, shook the ocean, hill and dale. 

Winds were hushed in voiceless terror and the livid sun was pale. 

Still the dubious battle lasted, until Rama in his ire 
Wielded Brahma’s deathful weapon flaming with celestial fire! 
Weapon which the Saint Agastya had unto the hero given. 

Winged as lightning dart of Indra, fatal as the bolt of heaven. 
Wrapped in smoke and flaming flashes, speeding from the circled bow, 
Pierced the iron heart of Ravan, laid the lifeless hero low, 

And a cry of pain and terror from the Raksha ranks arose. 

And a shout from joyous Vanars as they smote their fleeing foes! 
Heavenly flowers in rain descended on the red and gory plain. 

And from unseen harps and timbrels rose a soft celestial strain. 

And the ocean heaved in gladness, brighter shone the sunlit sky, 

Soft and cool the gentle zephyrs through the forest murmured by, 
Sweetest scent and fragrant odours wafted from celestial trees. 

Fell upon the earth and ocean, rode upon the laden breeze! 

Voice of blessing from the bright s\y fell on Raghus valiant son , — 
'^Champion of the true and righteous! now thy noble tas\ is done!'* 

XU Mandodan's Lament and the Funerals 

“Hast thou fallen,” wept in anguish Ravan’s first and eldest bride, 
Mandodari, slender-waisted, Queen of Lanka’s state and pride, 

“Hast thou fallen, king and consort, more than Gods in warlike might. 
Slain by man, whom bright Immortals feared to face in dubious fight? 



250 INDIAN IMAGINATION 

Not a man! — ^the Dark Destroyer came to thee in mortal form. 

Or the heaven-traversing Vishnu, Indra ruler of the storm, 

Gods of sky in shape of Vanars helped the dark and cruel deed, 

Girdling round the Discus-Wielder in the battle’s direst need! 

Well I knew, — when Khara, Dushan, were by Rama’s prowess slam, 
Rama w as no earthly mortal, he who crossed the mighty mam. 

Well I knew, — when with his army he invested Lanka’s gate, 

Rama was no earthly mortal but the messenger of Fate, 

And I prayed, — ^the faithful Sita might unto her consort go, 

For ’tis writ that nations perish for a righteous woman’s woe. 

But for impious lust of woman, — all forgetful of thy wife. 

Thou hast lost thy crown and kingdom, thou hast lost thy fated life! 
Woe to me! the sad remembrance haunts my tortured bosom still. 

Of our days on famed Kailasa or on Meru’s golden hill, 

Gone the days of joy and gladness, Mandodari’s days are done, 

Since her lord and king and husband from her dear embrace is gone!” 
Sorely wept the Queen of Lanka; Rama, tender, tearful, true. 

Bade the funeral rites and honours to a fallen foeman due. 

And they heaped the wood of Chandan and the fragrant garland laid, 
On the pyre they lifted Ravan in the richest robes arrayed. 

Weeping queens and sorrowing Rakshas round their fallen leader stood, 
Brahmans with their chaunted mantras piled the dry and scented wood, 
Oil and cords and sacred offerings were upon the altar laid, 

And a goat of inky darkness as a sacrifice was slayed. 

Piously the good Bibhishan lighted Ravan’s funeral pyre, 

And the zephyrs gently blowing fanned the bright and blazing fire, 
Slow and sad with due ablutions mourners left the funeral site, 

Rama then unstrung his weapon, laid aside his arms of might. 


BOOK XI RAJYA-ABHISHEKA 
(Rama's Retp^rn and Consecration^ 

The real Epic ends with the war, and with Rama’s happy return to 
Ayodhya. Sita proves her stainless virtue by an Ordeal of Fire, and 
returns with her lord and with Lakshman m an aerial car, which Ravan 
had won from the Gods, and which Bibhishan made over to Rama. 
Indian poets are never tired of descriptions of nature, and the poet of the 
Ramayana takes advantage of Rama’s journey from Ceylon to Oudh to 



THE EPIC OF RAMA 


251 

give us a bird’s-eye view of the whole continent of India, as well as to 
recapitulate the principal incidents of his great Epic. 

The gathering of men at Ayodhya, the greetings to Rama, and his 
consecration by the Vedic bard Vasishtha, are among the most pleasing 
passages in the whole poem. And the happiness enjoyed by men during 
the reign of Rama—descnbed in the last few couplets of this Book— is an 
article of belief and a living tradition in India to this day. 

The portions translated in this Book form the whole or portions of 
Sections cxviii., cxx., cxxv., cxxix., and cxxx., of Book vi. of the original 
text. 


7 Ordecd by Fire 

For she dwelt in Ravan’s dwelling, — ^rumour clouds a woman’s fame — 
Righteous Rama’s brow was clouded, saintly Sita spake in shame: 
‘Wherefore spake ye not, my Rama, if your bosom doubts my faith, 
Dearer than a dark suspicion to a woman were her death! 

Wherefore, Rama, with your token came your vassal o’er the wave, 

To assist a fallen woman and a tainted wife to save, 

Wherefore with your mighty forces crossed the ocean in your pride. 
Risked your hfe in endless combats for a sin-polluted bride 
Hast thou, Rama, all forgotten.'^ — Saintly Janak saw my birth. 

Child of harvest-bearing furrow, Sita sprang from Mother Earth, 

As a maiden true and stainless unto thee I gave my hand. 

As a consort fond and faithful roved with thee from land to land! 

But a woman pleadeth vainly when suspicion clouds her name, 
Lakshman, if thou lov’st thy sister, light for me the funeral flame. 
When the shadow of dishonour darkens o’er a woman’s life. 

Death alone is friend and refuge of a true and trustful wife. 

When a righteous lord and husband turns his cold averted eyes, 

Funeral flame dispels suspicion, honour lives when woman dies!” 

Dark was Rama’s gloomy visage and his hps were firmly sealed, 

And his eye betrayed no weakness, word disclosed no thought concealed, 
Silent heaved his heart in anguish, silent drooped his tortured head, 
Lakshman with a throbbing bosom funeral pyre for Sita made, 

And Videha’s sinless daughter prayed unto the Gods above, 

On her lord and wedded consort cast her dying looks of love! 

'7/ in act and thought,’' she uttered, "7 am true unto my name. 

Witness of our sins and virtues, may this Fire protect my fame! 



252 INDIAN IMAGINATION 

If a false and lying scandal brings a faithful woman shame, 

Witness of our sms and virtues, may this Fire protect my fame! 

If in lifelong loving duty I am free from sin and blame, 

Witness of our sins and virtues, may this Fire protect my fame!'* 
Fearless in her faith and valour Sita stepped upon the pyre, 

And her form of beauty vanished circled by the clasping fire, 

And an anguish shook the people like the ocean tempest-tost, 

Old and young and maid and matron wept for Sita true and lost, 
For bedecked in golden splendour and in gems and rich attire, 

Sita vanished in the red fire of the newly lighted pyre! 

Rishis and the great Gandharvas, Gods who know each secret deed, 
Witnessed Sita’s high devotion and a woman’s lofty creed, 

And the earth by ocean girdled with its wealth of teeming life. 
Witnessed deed of dauntless duty of a true and stainless wife! 

II Woman s Truth Vindicated 

Slow the red flames rolled asunder, God of Fire incarnate came. 
Holding in his radiant bosom fair Videha’s sinless dame, 

Not a curl upon her tresses, not a blossom on her brow. 

Not a fibre of her mantle did with tarnished lustre glow! 

Witness of our sinsiand virtues, God of Fire incarnate spake, 

Bade thetsorrow-stricken Rama back his sinless wife to take : 

‘^Ravan in his impious folly forced from thee thy faithful dame, 
Guarded by her changeless virtue, Sita still remains the same. 
Tempted oft by female Rakshas in the dark and dismal wood, 

In her woe and in her sadness true to thee hath Sita stood, 

Courted oft by royal Ravan in the forest far and lone. 

True to wedded troth and virtue Sita thought of thee alone. 

Pure is she in thought and action, pure and stainless, true and meek, 
I, the witness of all actions, thus my sacred mandate speak!” 

Rama’s forehead was unclouded and a radiance lit his eye. 

And his bosom heaved in gladness as he spake in accents high: 
“Never from the time I saw her in her maiden days of youth, 

Have I doubted Sita’s virtue, Sita’s fixed and changeless truth, 

I have known her ever sinless,— let the world her virtue know. 

For the God of Fire is witness to her truth and changeless vow! 
Ravan in his pride and passion conquered not a woman’s love, 

For the virtuous like the bright fire in their native radiance move, 



THE EPIC OF RAMA 


253 


Ravan in his rage and folly conquered not a faithful wife, 

For like ray of sun unsullied is a righteous woman’s life, 

Be the wide world now a witness,— pure and stainless is my dame, 
Rama shall not leave his consort till he leaves his righteous fame!” 

In his tears the contrite Rama clasped her in a soft embrace. 

And the fond forgiving Sita in his bosom hid her face! 

Ill Return Home by the Aerial Car 

“Mark my love,” so Rama uttered, as on flying Pushpa car. 

Borne by swans, the home-returning exiles left the field of war, 
“Lanka’s proud and castled city on Trikuta’s triple crest. 

As on peak of bold Kailasa mansions of Immortals rest! 

Mark the gory fields surrounding where the Vanars in their might. 
Faced and fought the charging Rakshas in the long and deathful fight, 
Indrajit and Kumbha-karna, Ravan and his chieftains slam. 

Fell upon the field of battle and their red blood soaks the plain. 

Mark where dark-eyed Mandodari, Ravan’s slender-waisted wife, 
Wept her widow’s tears of anguish when her monarch lost his life. 

She hath dried her tears of sorrow and bestowed her heart and hand, 
On Bibhishan good and faithful, crowned king of Lanka’s land. 

See my love, round Ceylon’s island how the ocean billows roar, 
Hiding pearls in caves of corals, strewing shells upon the shore, 

And the causeway far-extending, — monument of Rama’s fame, — 
‘Rama’s Bridge’ to distant ages shall our deathless deeds proclaim! 

See the rockbound fair Kishkindha and her mountain-girdled town, 
Where I slayed the warrior Bali, placed Sugriva on the throne, 

And the hill of Rishyamuka where Sugriva first I met. 

Gave him word, — ^he would be monarch ere the evening’s sun had set. 
See the sacred lake of Pampa by whose wild and echoing shore, 

Rama poured his lamentations when he saw his wife no more, 

And the woods of Janasthana where Jatayu fought and bled, 

When the deep deceitful Ravan with my trusting Sita fled. 

Dost thou mark, my soft-eyed Sita, cottage on the river’s shore, 
Where in righteous peace and penance Sita lived in days of yore, 

And by gloomy Godavari, Saint Agastya’s home of love. 

Holy men by holy duties sanctify the sacred grove! 

Dost thou, o’er the Dandak forest, view the Chitrakuta hill, 

Deathless bard the Saint Valmiki haunts its shade and crystal rill, 



INDIAN IMAGINATION 


254 

Thither came the righteous Bharat and my loving mother came, 
Longing in their hearts to take us to Ayodhya’s town o£ fame, 

Dost thou, dear devoted Sita, see the Jumna in her might, 

Where in Bharad-waja’s asram passed we, love, a happy night. 

And the broad and ruddy Ganga sweeping in her regal pride, 
Forest-dweller faithful Guha crossed us to the southern side. 

Joy! joy! my gentle Sita! Fair Ayodhya looms above, 

Ancient seat of Raghu’s empire, nest of Rama’s hope and love. 

Bow, bow, to bright Ayodhya * Darksome did the exiles roam, 

Now their weary toil is ended in their father’s ancient home!” 

IV Greetings 

Message from returning Rama, Vanars to Ayodhya brought, 

Righteous Bharat gave his mandate with a holy joy distraught; 

“Let our city shrines and chaityas ^ with a lofty music shake, 

And our priests to bright Immortals grateful gifts and offerings make, 
Bards, reciters of Puranas^ minstrels versed in ancient song, 

Women with their tuneful voices lays of sacred love prolong. 

Let our queens and stately courtiers step in splendour and in state, 
Chieftains with their marshalled forces range along the city gate, 

And our white-robed holy Brahmans hymns and sacred mantras sing. 
Offer greetings to our brother, render homage to our king!” 

Brave Satrughna heard his elder and his mandate duly kept: 

“Be our great and sacred city levelled, cleansed, and duly swept. 

And the grateful earth be sprinkled with the water from the well. 

Strewn with parched rice and offering and with flower of sweetest smell, 
On each turret, tower, and temple let our flags and colours wave. 

On the gates of proud Ayodhya plant Ayodhya’s banners brave. 

Gay festoons of flowering creeper home and street and dwelling line. 
And in gold and glittering garment let the gladdened city shine!” 
Elephants in golden trappings thousand chiefs and nobles bore. 
Chariots, cars, and gallant chargers speeding by Sarayu’s shore. 

And the serried troops of battle marched with colours rich and brave. 
Proudly o’er the gay procession did Ayodhya’s banners wave. 

In their stately gilded litters royal dames and damsels came. 

Queen Kausalya first and foremost, Queen Sumitra rich in fame, 

' Sbnnes or temples. ^ Sacred chronicles. 



THE EPIC OF RAMA 255 

Pious priest and learned Brahman, chief of guild from near and far, 
Noble chief and stately courtier with the wreath and water jar. 

Girt by minstrel, bard, and herald chanting glorious deeds of yore, 
Bharat came, — his elder’s sandals still the faithful younger bore, — 
Silver-white his proud umbrella, silver-white his garland brave. 
Silver-white the fan of ckown which his faithful henchmen wave. 
Stately march of gallant chargers and the roll of battle car, 

Heavy tread of royal tuskers and the beat of drum of war, 

Dun dub hi ^ and echoing sanl^ha, voice of nations gathered nigh. 

Shook the city’s tower and temple and the pealing vault of sky! 
Sailing o’er the cloudless ether Rama’s Pushpa chariot came, 

And ten thousand jocund voices shouted Rama’s joyous name, 
Women with their loving greetings, children with their joyous cry. 
Tottering age and lisping infant hailed the righteous chief and high. 
Bharat lifted up his glances unto Rama from afar, 

Unto Sita, unto Lakshman, seated on the Pushpa car, 

And he wafted high his greetings and he poured his pious lay, 

As one wafts the chaunted mantra to the rising God of Day! 

Silver swans by Rama’s bidding soft descended from the air. 

And on earth the chariot lighted, — car of flowers divinely fair, — 
Bharat mounting on the chariot, sought his long-lost elder’s grace, 
Rama held his faithful younger in a brother’s dear embrace. 

With his greetings unto Lakshman, unto Rama’s faithful dame. 

To Bibhishan and Sugriva and each chief who hither came, 

Bharat took the jewelled sandals with the rarest gems inlaid. 

Placed them at the feet of Rama and in humble accents said: 

“Tokens of thy rule and empire, these have filled thy royal throne. 
Faithful to his trust and duty Bharat renders back thine own, 

Bharat’s life is joy and gladness, for returned from distant shore, 

Thou shalt rule thy spacious kingdom and thy loyal men once more. 
Thou shalt hold thy rightful empire and assume thy royal crown, 
Faithful to his trust and duty, — Bharat renders back thine own!” 

F The Consecration 

Joy! joy! in bright Ayodhya gladness filled the hearts of all, 

Joy! joy! a lofty music sounded in the royal hall, 

^ Drum. 



256 INDIAN IMAGINATION 

Fourteen years of woe were ended, Rama now assumed his own, 

And they placed the weary wand’rer on his father’s ancient throne, 
And they brought the sacred water from each distant stream and hill, 
From the vast and boundless ocean, from each far and sacred rill. 
Vasishtha the Bard of Vedas with auspicious rites and meet 
Placed the monarch and his consort on the gemmed and jewelled seat, 
Gautama and Katyayana, Vamadeva priest of yore, 

Jabali and wise Vijaya versed in holy ancient lore, 

Poured the fresh and fragrant water on the consecrated king. 

As the Gods anointed Indra from the pure ethereal spring! 

Vedic priests with sacred mantra, dark-eyed virgins with their song. 
Warriors girt in arms and weapons round the crowned monarch throng. 
Juices from each fragrant creeper on his royal brow they place. 

And his father’s crown and jewels Rama’s ample forehead grace, 

And as Manu, first of monarchs, was enthroned in days of yore. 

So was Rama consecrated by the priests of Vedic lore! 

Brave Satrughna on his brother cast the white umbrella’s shade 
Bold Sugriva and Bibhishan waved the chou/ri gem-inlaid, 

Vayu, God of gentle zephyrs, gift of golden garland lent, 

Indra, God of rain and sunshine, wreath of pearls to Rama sent, 

Gay Gandharvas raised the music, fair Apsaras ^ formed the ring. 

Men in nations hailed their Rama as their lord and righteous king! 

And *tts told by ancient sages, during Rama's happy reign, 

Death untimely, dire diseases, came not to his subject men. 

Widows wept not in their sorrow for their lords untimely lost, 

Mothers wailed not in their anguish for their babes by Yama crost. 
Robbers, cheats, and gay deceivers tempted not with lying word, 
'Neighbour loved his righteous neighbour and the people loved their lord I 
Trees their ample produce yielded as returning seasons went. 

And the earth in grateful gladness never failing harvest lent. 

Rains descended in their season, never came the blighting gale, 

Rich in crop and rich in pasture was each soft and smiling vale, 

Loom and anvil gave their produce and the tilled and fertile soil. 

And the nation lived rejoicing in their old ancestral toil. 

^ Celestial nymph. 



THE EPIC OF RAMA 


257 


BOOK XII ASWA-MEDHA 
(Sacrifice of the Horse) 

The real Epic ends with Rama’s happy return to Ayodhya. An Uttara- 
Kanda or Supplement is added, describing the fate of Sita, and giving the 
poem a sad ending. 

The dark cloud of suspicion still hung on the fame of Sita, and the 
people of Ayodhya made reflections on the conduct of their king, who 
had taken back into his house a woman who had lived in the palace of 
Ravan. Rama gave way to the opinion of his people, and he sent away his 
loving and faithful Sita to live in forests once more. 

Sita found an asylum in the hermitage of Valmiki, and reputed author 
of this Epic, and there gave birth to twins. Lava and Kusa. Years passed 
on, and Lava and Kusa grew up as hermit boys, and as pupils of Valmiki. 

After years had passed, Rama performed a great Horse-sacrifice. Kings 
and princes were invited from neighbouring countries, and a great feast 
was held. Valmiki came to the sacrifice, and his pupils, Lava and Kusa, 
chanted there the great Epic, the Ramayana, describing the deeds of 
Rama. In this interesting portion of the poem we find how songs and 
poetry were handed down in ancient India by memory. The boys had 
learnt the whole of the Epic by heart, and chanted portions of it, day after 
day, till the recital was completed. We are told that the poem consists of 
seven books, 500 cantos, and 24,000 couplets. Twenty cantos were recited 
each day, so that the recital of the whole poem must have taken twenty- 
five days. It was by such feats of memory and by such recitals that 
literature was preserved in ancient times in India. 

Rama recognised his sons in the boy-minstrels, and his heart yearned 
once more for Sita, whom he had banished but never forgotten. He asked 
the Poet Valmiki to restore his wife to him, and he desired that Sita might 
once more prove her purity in the great assembly, so that he might take 
her back with the approval of his people. 

Sita came. But her life had been darkened by an unjust suspicion, her 
heart was broken, and she invoked the Earth to take her back. And the 
Earth, which had given Sita birth, yawned and took back her suffering 
child into her bosom. 

In the ancient hymns of the Rig Veda, Sita is simply the goddess of the 
field-furrow which bears crops for men. We find how that simple con- 
ception is concealed in the R^ayana, where Sita the heroine of the Epic 
is still born of the field-furrow, and after all her adventures returns to 



INDIAN IMAGINATION 


258 

the Earth. To the millions o£ men and women in India, however, Sita is 
not an allegory; she lives in their hearts and affections as the model of 
womanly love, womanly devotion, and a wife’s noble self-abnegation. 

The portions translated in this Book form the whole or portions of 
Sections xcii., xciii., xciv., and xcvii. of Book vii. of the original text. 

I The Sacrifice 

Years have passed; the lonely Rama m his joyless palace reigned, 

And for righteous duty yearning, Aswa-medha ^ rite ordained, 

And a steed of darkest sable with the valiant Lakshman sent. 

And with troops and faithful courtiers to Naimisha’s forest went. 

Fair was far Naimisha’s forest by the limpid Gumti’s shore, 

Monarchs came and warlike chieftains, Brahmans versed in sacred lore, 
Bharat with each friend and kinsman served them with the choicest food, 
Proud retainers by each chieftain and each crowned monarch stood. 
Palaces and stately mansions were for royal guests assigned, 

Peaceful homes for learned Brahmans were with trees umbrageous lined, 
Gifts were made unto the needy, cloth by skilful weavers wrought. 

Ere the suppliants spake their wishes, ere they shaped their inmost 
thought! 

Rice unto the helpless widow, to the orphan wealth and gold. 

Gifts they gave to holy Brahmans, shelter to the weak and old, 
Garments to the grateful people crowding by their monarch’s door. 
Food and drink unto the hungry, home unto the orphan poor. 

Ancient rishis had not witnessed feast like this in any land, 

Bright Immortals in their bounty blest not with a kinder hand. 

Through the year and circling seasons lasted Rama’s sacred feast, 

And the untold wealth of Rama by his kindly gifts increased! 

U Valmt\i and His Pupils 

Foremost midst the gathered Sages to the holy ya'jna ® came 
Deathless Bard of Lay Immortal — Saint Valmiki rich in fame, 

Midst the humble homes of nshs, on the confines of the wood, 

Cottage of the Saint Valmiki in the shady garden stood. 

Fruits and berries from the jungle, water from the crystal spring, 

With a careful hand Valmiki did unto his cottage bring, 

^ seicrifice, ® Sacnfice, 



THE EPIC OF KAMA 


259 


And he spake to gentle Lava, Kusa child of righteous fame,— 

Sita’s sons, as youthful hermits to the sacred feast they came: 

“Lift your voices, righteous pupils, and your richest music lend, 

Sing the Lay of Ramayana from the first unto the end. 

Sing it to the holy Brahman, to the warrior fair and tall. 

In the crowded street and pathway, in the monarch’s palace hall, 
Sing it by the door of Rama, — ^he ordains this mighty feast. 

Sing it to the royal ladies, — ^they shall to the story list. 

Sing from day to day unwearied, in this sacrificial site. 

Chant to all the gathered nations Rama’s deeds of matchless might. 
And this store of fruits and berries will allay your thirst and toil, 
Gentle children of the forest, unknown strangers in this soil! 
Twenty cantos of the Epic, morn to night, recite each day. 

Till from end to end is chanted Ramayana s deathless Lay, 

Ask no alms, receive no riches, nor of your misfortunes tell. 

Useless unto us is bounty who in darksome forests dwell, 

Children of the wood and mountain, cruel fortune clouds your birth, 
Stainless virtue be your shelter, virtue be your wealth on earth! 

If the royal Rama questions and your lineage seeks to know. 

Say, — ^Valmiki is our Teacher and our Sire on earth below. 

Wake your harps to notes of rapture and your softest accents lend^ 
With the music of the poet music of your voices blend. 

Bow unto the mighty monarch, bow to Rama fair and tall. 

He is father of his subjects, he is lord of creatures all!” 

in Recital of the Ramayana 

When the silent night was ended, and their pure ablutions done. 
Joyous went the minstrel brothers, and their lofty lay begun, 

Rama to the hermit minstrels lent a monarch’s willing ear. 

Blended with the simple music dulcet was the lay to hear, 

And so sweet the chanted accents, Rama’s inmost soul was stirred, 
With his royal guests and courtiers still the deathless lay he heard! 
Heralds versed in old Puranas, Brahmans skilled in pious rite, 
Minstrels deep in lore of music, poets fired by heavenly might. 
Watchers of the constellations, min’sters of the festive day, 

Men of science and of logic, bards who sang the ancient lay, 
Painters skilled and merry dancers who the festive joy prolong, 
Hushed and silent in their wonder listed to the wondrous song! 



26 o 


INDIAN IMAGINATION 


And as poured the flood of music through the bright and livelong day. 
Eyes and ears and hearts insatiate drank the nectar of the lay. 

And the eager people whispered ; “See the boys, how like our king 
As two drops of limpid water from the parent bubble spring! 

Were the boys no hermit-children, in the hermit’s garments clad, 

We would deem them Rama’s image, — Rama as a youthful lad!” 
Twenty cantos of the Epic thus the youthful minstrels sung, 

And the voice of stringed music through the Epic rolled along, 

Out spake Rama in his wonder: “Scarce I know who these may be. 
Eighteen thousand golden pieces be the children-minstrels’ fee!” 

“Not so,” answered thus the children, “we in darksome forests dwell, 
Gold and silver, bounteous monarch, forest life beseem not well!” 
“Noble children!” uttered Rama, “dear to me the words you say. 

Tell me who composed this Epic, — ^Father of this deathless Lay?” 
''Saint Valmi\i** spa\e the minstrels, "framed the great immortal song 
Four and twenty thousand verses to this noble hay belong, 

Untold tales of deathless virtue sanctify his sacred line, 

And five hundred glorious cantos in this glorious Epic shine. 

In SIX Boo1{s of mighty splendour was the poet's tas\ begun, 

With a seventh Boo\, supplemental is the poet's labour done, 

All thy matchless deeds, 0 monarch, in this hay will brighter shine, 
hist to us from first to ending if thy royal heart incline!" 

“Be it so,” thus Rama answered, but the hours of day were o’er, 

And Valmiki’s youthful pupils to their cottage came once more. 
Rama with his guests and courtiers slowly left the royal hall, 

Eager was his heart to listen, eager were the monarchs all. 

And the voice of song and music thus was lifted day to day, 

And from day to day they listened to Valmiki’s deathless Lay! 

IV hava and Kusa Recognised 

Flashed upon the contrite Rama glimpses of the dawning truth. 

And with tears of love paternal Rama clasped each minstrel youth, 
Yearned his sorrow-stricken bosom for his pure and peerless dame, 
Sita banished to the forest, stainless in her righteous fame! 

In his tears repentant Rama to Valmiki message sent, 

That his heart with eager longing sought her from her banishment: 
“Pure in soul! before these monarchs may she yet her virtue prove, 
Grace once more my throne and kingdom, share my unforgotten love, 



tHE EPIC OF RAMA 


261 


Pure in soul! before my subjects may her truth and virtue shine, 

Queen of Rama’s heart and empire may she once again be mine!” 

V Sita Lost 

Morning dav^ned; and with Valmiki, Sita to the gathering came, 
Banished wife and weeping mother, sorrow-stricken, suffering dame, 
Pure in thought and deed, Valrmki gave his troth and plighted word, — 
Faithful still the banished Sita m her bosom held her lord! 

“Mighty Saint,” so Rama answered as he bowed his humble head, 
“Listening world will hear thy mandate and the word that thou hast said, 
Never in his bosom Rama questioned Sita’s faithful love, 

And the God of Fire incarnate did her stainless virtue prove! 

Pardon, if the voice of rumour drove me to a deed of shame. 

Bowing to my people’s wishes I disowned my sinless dame, 

Pardon, if to please my subjects I have bade my Sita roam, 

Tore her from my throne and empire, tore her from my heart and home! 
In the dark and dreary forest was my Sita left to mourn, 

In the lone and gloomy jungle were my royal children born, 

Help me, Gods, to wipe this error and this deed of sinful pride, 

May my Sita prove her virtue, be again my loving bride!” 

Gods and Spirits, bright Immortals to that royal Yapa came. 

Men of every race and nation, kings and chiefs of righteous fame, 

Softly through the halls of splendour cool and scented breezes blew. 
Fragrance of celestial blossoms o’er the royal chambers flew. 

Sita saw the bright Celestials, monarchs gathered from afar. 

Saw her royal lord and husband bright as heaven-ascending star, 

Saw her sons as hermit-minstrels beaming with a radiance high, 

Milk of love suffused her bosom, tear of sorrow filled her eye! 

Rama’s queen and Janak’s daughter, will she stoop her cause to plead, 
Witness of her truth and virtue can a loving woman need? 

Oh! her woman’s heart is bursting, and her day on earth is done. 

And she pressed her heaving bosom, slow and sadly thus begun: 

''If unstained in thought and action 1 have lived from day of birth, 
Spare a daughter’s shame and anguish and receive her, Mother Earth! 

If in duty and devotion I have laboured undefiled. 

Mother Earth! who bore this woman, once again receive thy child! 

If in truth unto my husband I have proved a faithful wife, 

Mother Earth! relieve thy Sita from the burden of this life!” 



262 


INDIAN IMAGINATION 


Then the earth was rent and parted, and a golden throne arose, 

Held aloft by jewelled Nagas as the leaves enfold the rose, 

And the Mother in embraces held her spotless sinless Child, 

Saintly Janak’s saintly daughter, pure and true and undefiled, 

Gods and men proclaim her virtue! But fair Sita is no more, 

Lone is Rama’s loveless bosom and his days of bliss are o’er! 

CONCLUSION 

In the concluding portion of the Uttar a or Supplemental Book, the 
descendants of Rama and his brothers are described as the founders of the 
great cities and kingdoms which flourished in Western India in the 
fourth and fifth centuries before the Christian Era. 

Bharat had two sons, Taksha and Pushkala. The former founded 
Taksha-sila, to the east of the Indus, and known to Alexander and the 
Greeks as Taxila. The latter founded Pushkala-vati, to the west of the 
Indus, and known to Alexander and the Greeks as Peukelaotis. Thus the 
sons of Bharat are said to have founded kingdoms which flourished on 
either side of the Indus river in the fourth century before Christ. 

Lakshman had two sons, Angada and Chandraketu. The former 
founded the kingdom of Karupada, and the latter founded the city of 
Chandrakanti in the Malwa country. 

Satrughna had two sons, Suvahu and Satrughati. The former became 
king of Mathura, and the latter ruled in Vidisha. 

Rama had two sons. Lava and Kusa. The former ruled in Sravasti, 
which was the capital of Oudh at the time of the Buddha in the fifth and 
sixth centuries before Christ. The latter founded Kusavati at the foot 
of the Vindhya mountains. 

The death of Rama and his brothers was in accordance with Hindu 
ideas of the death of the righteous. Lakshman died under somewhat 
peculiar circumstances. A messenger from heaven sought a secret confer- 
ence with Rama, and Rama placed Lakshman at the gate, with strict 
injunctions that whoever intruded on the private conference should be 
slam. Lakshman himself had to disturb the conference by the solicitation 
of the celestial rishi Durvasa, who always appears on earth to create mis- 
chief, And true to the orders passed by Rama, he surrendered his life by 
penances, and went to heaven. 

In the fulness of time, Rama and his other brothers left Ayodhya, 
crossed the Sarayu, surrendered their mortal life, and entered heaven. 



INDIAN 

HUMOR 




The Fables of Panchatantra 


INTRODUCTION 

India is the home of fables, which are usually associated in our minds 
with the Greek slave, mentioned by Herodotus, by the name of Aesop. 
Few users of allusions to Aesop’s fables which have crept into our every- 
day language realize that these stories, their special form and technique, 
can be traced to very remote sources in India. Ernest Rhys, in his Intro- 
duction to Fables, Aesop and Others (Everyman’s) justly remarks, “We 
have to admit that the beast-fable did not begin with him (Aesop), or in 
Greece at all. We have, in fact, to go East and to look to India and burrow 
in the ‘tales within tales’ of Hitopadesa to get an idea how old the 
antiquity of the fable actually is,” 

There are two outstanding collections of animal fables in Indian litera- 
ture, the Panchatantra and the Hitopadesa. The first is the older and 
richer collection, consisting of 87 stories, the second, of 43, of which 25 
are found in the Panchatantra. According to Dr. Hertel, the Panchatantra 
was probably written down in the second century b.c. in Kashmir, but 
the stories themselves are much older from evidences in Sanskrit works. 
It was the German Sanskrit scholar, Theodor Benfey, who translated the 
Panchatantra in 1859, and started the comparative study of beast fables, 
while the science of comparative philology had been started by the Eng- 
hsh pioneer of Sanskrit studies. Sir William Jones in 1789, and its founda- 
tion laid by Franz Bopp in 1816 through the comparison of Greek, Latin, 
Sanskrit, Celtic and Teutonic words. (Note that Pancha means “five,” 
Panchatantra meaning “Five Sections”; cf. Pentateuch^ Curiously, a 
German version of these animal fables, made in 1481, was one of the 
earliest printed books in Europe, and an English version was among 
the books that came from Caxton’s printing press. Also, the Hito- 

265 


INDIAN HUMOR 


266 

padesa was one of the first printed Sanskrit books in the beginning of 
the nineteenth century. Sir Edwin Arnold translated the Hitopadesa 
{Boo\ of Good Counsels) from the Sanskrit in 1861. On the other hand, 
the Panchatantra was not directly translated from the Sanskrit until 
1924 by Stanley Rice,^ and by Arthur W. Ryder in 1925. 

While the indebtedness of Aesop to the Indian fables is open to ques- 
tion and can never be settled by conclusive evidence, the established 
route of migration of Indian fables into Europe has been interestingly 
described by Max Muller The stories from one of the collections of the 
Panchatantra (of which there are twenty-five recensions) , were translated 
into Pahlawi (Pehlevi) in the sixth century. From the Persian, it was 
translated into Syriac in A.D. 570 (under the title Kalilag and Damnag, 
names of the jackals telling the stories, Tarataka and Damnaka), and 
into Arabic in the eighth century as the Fables of Pilpay. In this Arabic 
garb, it spread through the Islam world and reached Spain, Sicily, Prov- 
ence and France, while through Constantinople, it reached Eastern 
Europe and was translated into Greek, Latin, German, Italian and 
English. In an English translation from the Italian it was probably 
known to Shakespeare. Such tales have inspired similar stories of 
Boccaccio; see The Gullible Husband and The Butter-Blinded Brahman 
in the present selection. La Fontaine, in the edition of his Fables pub- 
lished in 1678, says in the Preface, “It is not necessary that I should say 
whence I have taken the subjects of these new fables. I shall only say, 
from a sense of gratitude that I owe the largest portion of them to 
Pilpay the Indian Sage.” ® 

The Panchatantra was therefore one of the most widely known and 
widely translated books of the world in the Middle Ages. As to the 
intriguing question of the origin of Aesop’s fables, different views are 
possible and are held by different scholars. Max Muller believed that 
these fables found their way to Greece in or before Herodotus’ time; 
others held the opposite; while still others believe in a common Aryan 
origin, or in independent origins. The question will probably never be 
setded. Rawlinson points out, however, “That the migration of fables 
was originally from East to West, and not vice versa, is shown by the 

^ Stanley Rice wrote in 1924 in his introduction to Ancient Fables and Stories (Wisdom of 
the East Series) : “Indeed, a search in the British Museum and in the India OfiSce libraries 
has failed to discover any English translation whatsoever ” 

* “On the Migration of Fables,” in Chips from a German Workshop , vol. IV. 

^ Quoted by H. H. Gowen, History of Indian Literature. 



THE FABLES OF PANCHATANTRA 267 

fact that the animals and birds who play the leading parts, the lion, the 
jackal, the elephant, and the peacock, are mostly Indian ones. In the 
European versions the jackal becomes the fox: the relation.between the 
lion and the jackal is a natural one, whereas that between the lion and 
the fox is not.” ^ What seems to me common sense is that tigers, monkeys 
and crocodiles abound in Indian jungles and not in Greece. One cannot 
read Indian literature without being constantly impressed by the sense 
of the forest. 

The important thing to point out is that the fables have had a too 
luxuriant growth in native Indian literature to permit of the theory of 
borrowed origins. With an apology for punning, one must say that the 
Hindu mind is fabulous. The genius for creating fables seems inexhaus- 
tible in Indian literature, while Aesop stood almost alone in Greece. Wit- 
ness the Buddhist Birth Stories (the Jata\as),^ and the Dhammapada 
Commentary by Buddhaghosha,® running each into four or five hundred 
stories, a great part of them animal fables, and the Panchatantra and the 
Hitopadesa, When one remembers also that many of the stories in the 
Arabian Nights, including that of the famous Sindbad the Sailor, are of 
Hindu origin, it is not easy to accept the view that such tales are not of 
native Indian growth. 

Like the Arabian Nights, the Panchatantra uses a framework: that 
of a king despairing of teaching his two dull princes and finally engaging 
a wise Brahman who pledged to teach these two dull boys the complete 
niti, or wisdom of human intercourse, in six months, and who proceeded 
to teach these lessons on human nature through the fables, cleverly weav- 
ing one tale within another and very often making one character in the 
story start telling another story before one is completed. 

The gift for moralizing that we see in Aesop exists in rather uncom- 
fortable abundance. For it is quite clear that here the tale adorns the 
moral, rather than the moral adorns the tale. Many of these maxims are 
quotations from older books, like the Vedas, and some of them are 
extremely appropriate today. One might choose the following as the 
maxim for the present work and all folk literature: 

Ail things that are seen or heard 
In science or the Sacred Word, 

^ ‘‘India in European Thought and Literature” in T he Legacy of India, Oxford. 

® Translated by T. W. Rhys Davids, London, 1880. 

® Translated by E. W, Burlingame, Buddhist Legends, in 3 vols. Harvard Onental Series, 
Nos, 28, 29, 30, 



268 


INDIAN HUMOR 


All things in interstellar space 
Are known among the populace. 

And in an age when scholars build airplanes without knowing how to 
use them, one could agree in the tale of Lion-Ma^ers that 

Scholarship is less than sense, 

Therefore seek intelligence. 

The folly of appeasers was once wittily expressed by Heywood Broun 
in Aesop fashion when he said that “appeasers believe that if you keep 
on throwing steaks to a tiger, the tiger will become a vegetarian.” The 
author of Panchatantra had some thing similar to say: 

Caress a rascal as you will, 

He was, and is, a rascal still: 

All salve and sweating-treatments fail 
To take the kink from doggy’s tail. 

Conciliation simply makes 
A foeman’s indignation splutter, 

Like drops of water sprinkled on 
A briskly burning pan of butter. 

And we may derive some comfort in hearing that mankind eventually 
always overcomes its schemers: 

Since scamp and sneak and snake 
So often undertake 
A plan that does not thrive, 

The world wags on, alive. 

The purpose of the book may be said to teach wisdom about human 
nature by libeling the animal world. Like Aesop, the author’s morals 
are sharp and shrewd. But on the whole, it is a good procedure to make 
the animal kingdom bear all the sins of hypocrisy and cunning and 
avarice of mankind. When the wolf chides the lamb for fouling the 
water he is drinking, the people of the weak nations know who the wolf 
is if not the aggressor himself. And when a fox condemns “sour grapes,” 
I feel that he is distinctly human: a fox is too honest for that, only 
humans indulge in the luxury of rationalizing errors. There is an advan- 
tage in making animals talk like men, rather than make gods do the 
same. When animals talk like men, we at least feel as if we were hearing 
children talk like grown-ups, which is pleasurable, but when we make 



tme fables of panchatantra 269 

the gods talk like human beings, we feel as if we were listening to old 
men talking like children. Rather than be anthropomorphic with the 
gods, let’s be anthropomorphic with the animals. 

The present selection is taken from the translation by Arthur W, 
Ryder, ^ who has also translated the beautiful Sa\untala, the classic Indian 
drama, for us. I have often found it necessary to omit some of the too 
many verse comments. In an age when men still fight like animals, it 
may be sometimes quite refreshing to re-enter the world of simple human 
truths and recognize ourselves or our fellowmen whose names may 
appear in the morning papers. I have included some fables at the end 
of this selection, which are recognizable as familiar to us. The best known 
is that containing the classical example of anti-climax, The Brahman's 
Dream, known to us as the story of the Milkmaid who dreamed of her 
wedding and overthrew her milk pail. The story of the Loyal Mungoose, 
so heroically pathetic and worthy of a Walt Disney cartoon, can be 
recognized as the Welsh story of Llewellyn and Gelert, where the mun- 
goose has been transformed into a faithful dog. 

But I do wish that the wise, learned and calculating appeasers of 
America and Europe had read The Frogs that Rode Sna\ebac\ in their 
childhood and taken that simple wisdom to heart, for I believe Water- 
foot who gave away the plebeian frogs to the snake was the first of the 
race of appeasers. And the first of the isolationists were the little monkeys 
in the story of The Unforgiving Monkey, 

"^The Panchatantra, University of Chicago Press, 1925. 



The Panchatantra 

Translated by Arthur W. Ryder 


INTRODUCTION TO THE STORIES 

In the southern country is a city called Maidens’ Delight. There lived 
a king named Immortal-Power. He was familiar with all the works 
treating of the wise conduct of life. His feet were made dazzling by the 
tangle of rays of light from jewels in the diadems of mighty kings who 
knelt before him. He had reached the far shore of all the arts that 
embellish life. This king had three sons. Their names were Rich-Power, 
Fierce-Power, Endless-Power, and they were supreme blockheads. 

Now when the king perceived that they were hostile to education, he 
summoned his counselors and said: “Gentlemen, it is known to you 
that these sons of mine, being hostile to education, are lacking in dis- 
cernment, So when I behold them, my kingdom brings me no happiness, 
though all external thorns are drawn. For there is wisdom in the proverb: 

Of sons unborn, or dead, or fools. 

Unborn or dead will do: 

They cause a little grief, no doubt; 

But fools, a long life through. 

And again: 

To what good purpose can a cow 
That brings no calf nor milk, be bent? 

Or why beget a son who proves 
A dunce and disobedient.? 

Some means must therefore be devised to awaken their Intelligence*” 
And they, one after another, replied: “O King, first one learns gram- 
mar, in twelve years. If this subject has somehow been mastered, then 
270 


THE PANCHATANTRA 27I 

one masters the books on religion and practical life. Then the intelligence 
'awakens.” 

But one of their number, a counselor named Keen, said : “p King, the 
duration of life is limited, and the verbal sciences require much time for 
mastery. Therefore let some kind of epitome be devised to wake their 
intelligence. There is a proverb that says: 

Since verbal science has no final end, 

Since life is short, and obstacles impend. 

Let central facts be picked and firmly fixed, 

As swans extract the milk with water mixed. 

“Now there is a Brahman here named Vishnusharman,^ with a repu- 
tation for competence in numerous sciences. Intrust the princes to him. 
He will certainly make them intelligent in a twinkling.” 

When the king had listened to this, he summoned Vishnusharman 
and said: “Holy sir, as a favor to me you must make these princes incom- 
parable masters of the art of practical life. In return, I will bestow upon 
you a hundred land-grants.” 

And Vishnusharman made answer to the king: “O King, listen.. Here 
is the plain truth. I am not the man to sell good learning for a hundred 
land-grants. But if I do not, in six months* time, make the boys acquainted 
with the art of intelligent living, I will give up my own name. Let us 
cut the matter short. Listen to my lion-roar. My boasting arises from no 
greed for cash. Besides, I have no use for money; I am eighty years old, 
and all the objects of sensual desire have lost their charm. But in order 
that your request may be granted, I will show a sporting spirit in ref- 
erence to artistic matters. Make a note of the date. If I fail to render your 
sons, in six months’ time, incomparable masters of the art of intelligent 
living, then His Majesty is at liberty to show me His Majestic bare 
bottom.” 

When the king, surrounded by his counselors, had listened to the 
Brahman’s highly unconventional promise, he was penetrated with 
wonder, intrusted the princes to him, and experienced supreme content. 

Meanwhile, Vishnusharman took the boys, went home, and made 
them learn by heart five books which he composed and called : (I) “The 
Loss of Friends,” (II) “The Winning of Friends,” (III) “Crows and 
Owls,” (IV) “Loss of Gains,” (V) “Ill-considered Action.” 

^ It IS possible that Vishnusharmau was the real author of the book, 



INDIAN HUMOR 


272 

These the princes learned, and in six months’ time they answered the 
prescription. Since that day this work on the art of intelligent living, 
called Panchatantra, or the “Five Books,” has traveled the world, aiming 
at the awakening of intelligence in the young. To sum the matter up: 

Whoever learns the work by heart, 

Or through the story-teller’s art 
Becomes acquainted, 

His life by sad defeat — ^although 
The king of heaven be his foe — 

Is never tainted. 


THE FROGS THAT RODE SNAKEBACK 

There was once an elderly black snake in a certain spot, and his name 
was Slow-Poison. He considered the situation from this point of view: 
“How in the world can I get along without overtaxing my energies?” 
Then he went to a pond containing many frogs, and behaved as if very 
dejected. 

As he waited thus, a frog came to the edge of the water and asked: 
“Uncle, why don’t you bustle about today for food as usual?” 

“My dear friend,” said Slow-Poison, “I am afflicted. Why should I 
wish for food ? For this evening, as I was bustling about for food, I saw 
a frog and made ready to catch him. But he saw me and, fearing death, 
he escaped among some Brahmans intent upon holy recitation, nor did 
I perceive which way he went. But in the water at the edge of the pond 
was the great toe of a Brahman boy, and stupidly deceived by its resem- 
blance to a frog, I bit it, and the boy died immediately. Then the sorrow- 
ing father cursed me in these terms: ‘Monster 1 Since you bit my harm- 
less son, you shall for this sin become a vehicle for frogs, and shall subsist 
on whatever they choose to allow you.’ Consequently, I have come here 
to serve as your vehicle.” 

Now the frog reported this to all the others. And every last one of 
them, in extreme delight, went and reported to the frog-king, whose 
name was Water-Foot. He in turn, accompanied by his counselors, rose 
hurriedly from the pond — ^for he thought it an extraordinary occurrence 
— and climbed upon Slow-Poison’s hood. The others also, in order of 
age, climbed on his back. Yet others, finding no vacant spot, hopped 
along behind the snake. Now Slow-Poison, with an eye to making his 



THE PANCHATANTRA 


273 

living, showed them fancy turns in great variety. And Water-Foot, 
enjoying contact with his body, said to him: 

rd rather ride Slow-Poison than 
The finest horse Fve seen, 

Or elephant, or chariot, 

Or man-borne palanquin. 

The next day, Slow-Poison was wily enough to move very slowly. So 
Water-Foot said: “My dear Slow-Poison, why don’t you carry us nicely, 
as you did before.?” 

And Slow-Poison said: “O King, I have no carrying power today be- 
cause of lack of food.” My dear fellow,” said the king, “eat the plebeian 
frogs.” 

When Slow-Poison heard this, he quivered with joy in every member 
and made haste to say: “Why, that is a part of the curse laid on me by 
the Brahman. For that reason I am greatly pleased at your command.” 
So he ate frogs uninterruptedly, and in a very few days he grew strong. 
And with delight and inner laughter he said : 

The trick was good. All sorts of frogs 
Within my power have passed. 

The only question that remains, 

Is: How long will they last? 

Water-Foot, for his part, was befooled by Slow-Poison’s plausibilities^ 
and did not notice a thing. 

THE UNFORGIVING MONKEY 

In a certain city was a king named Moon, who had a pack of monkeys 
for his son’s amusement. They were kept in prime condition by daily 
provender and pabulum in great variety. 

For the amusement of the same prince there was a herd of rams. One 
of them had an itching tongue, so he went into the kitchen at all hours 
of the day and night and swallowed everything in sight. And the cooks 
would beat him with any stick or other object within reach. 

Now when the chief of the monkeys observed this, he reflected: “Dear 
me! This quarrel between ram and cooks will mean the destruction of 
the monkeys. For the ram is a regular guzzler, and when the cooks 
arc infuriated, they hit him with anything handy. Suppose some time 



INDIAN HUMOR 


274 

they find nothing else and beat him with a firebrand. Then that broad^ 
woolly back will very easily catch fire. And if the ram, while burning, 
plunges into the stable near by, it will blaze — for it is mostly thatch-— 
and the horses will be scorched. Now the standard work on veterinary 
science prescribes monkey-fat to relieve burns on horses. This being so, 
we are threatened with death.” 

Having reached this conclusion, he assembled the monkeys and said: 

“A quarrel of the ram and cooks 
Has lately come about; 

It threatens every monkey life 
Without a shade of doubt. 

“Because, if senseless quarrels rend 
A house from day to day, 

The folk who wish to keep alive 
Had better move away. 

“Therefore let us leave the house and take to the woods before we are 
aU dead.” 

But the conceited monkeys laughed at his warning and said: “Oho! 
You are old and your mind is slipping. Your words prove it. We have 
no intention of foregoing the heavenly dainties which the princes give 
us with their own hands, in order to eat fruits peppery, puckery, bitter, 
and sour from the trees out there in the forest.” 

Having listened to this, the monkey chief made a wry face and said: 
“Come, come! You are fools. You do not consider the outcome of this 
pleasant life. Just at present it is sweet, at the last it will turn to poison. 
At any rate, I will not behold the death of my household. I am off for 
that very forest.” 

With these words the chief left them all behind, and went to the forest. 

One day after he had gone, the ram entered the kitchen. And the 
cook, finding nothing else, picked up a firebrand, half-consumed and 
still blazing, and struck him. Whereat, with half his body blazing, he 
plunged bleating into the stable near by. There he rolled until flames 
started up on all sides — ^for the stable was mostly thatch — and of the 
horses tethered there some died, their eyes popping, while some, half- 
burned to death and whinnying with pain, snapped their halters, so that 
nobody knew what to do. 

In this state of affairs, the saddened king assembled the veterinary 



THE PANCHATANTRA 


275 

surgeons and said: “Prescribe some method of giving these horses relief 
from the pain of their burns.” And they, recalling the teachings of their 
science, prescribed for this emergency the remedy of applying monkey- 
fat. 

When the king heard this, he ordered the slaughter of the monkeys. 
And, not to waste words, every one was killed. 

Now the monkey chief did not with his own eyes see this outrage 
perpetrated on his household. But he heard the story as it passed from 
one to another, and did not take it tamely. As the proverb says : 

If foes commit an outrage on 
A house, and one forgives — 

Be it from fear or greed — he is 
The meanest man that lives. 

Now as the elderly monkey wandered about thirsty, he came to a lake 
made lovely by clusters of lotuses. And as he observed it narrowly, he 
noticed footprints leading into the lake, but none coming out. There- 
upon he reflected: “There must be some vicious beast here m the water. 
So I will stay at a safe distance and drink through a hollow lotus-stalk.” 

When he had done so, there issued from the water a man-eating fiend 
with a pearl necklace adorning his neck, who spoke and said: “Sir, 1 
eat everyone who enters the water. So there is none shrewder than you, 
who drink in this fashion. I have taken a hking to you. Name your 
heart’s desire.” 

“Sir,” said the monkey, “how many can you eat?” And the fiend 
replied: “I can eat hundreds, thousands, myriads, yes, hundreds of 
thousands, if they enter the water. Outside, a jackal can overpower me.” 

“And I,” said the monkey, “I live in mortal enmity with a king. If 
you will give me that pearl necklace, I will awaken his greed with a 
plausible narrative, and will make that king enter the lake along with 
his retinue.” So the fiend handed over the pearl necklace. 

Then people saw the monkey roaming over trees and palace-roofs 
with a pearl necklace embellishing his throat, and they asked him: 
“Well, chief, where have you spent this long time? Where did you get 
a pearl necklace like that? Its dazzling beauty dims the very sun.” 

And the monkey answered: “In a spot in the forest is a shrewdly 
hidden lake, a creation of the god of wealth. Through his grace, if 
anyone bathes there at sunrise on Sunday, he comes out with a pearl 
necklace like this embellishing his throat.” 



INDIAN HUMOR 


276 

Now the king heard this from somebody, summoned the monkey, 
and asked: “Is this true, chief?” “O King,” said the monkey, “you have 
visible proof in the pearl necklace on my throat. If you, too, could jfind 
a use for one, send somebody with me, and I will show him.” 

On hearing this, the king said: “In view of the facts, I will come 
myself with my retinue, so that we may acquire numbers of pearl neck- 
laces.” “O King,” said the monkey, “your idea is delicious.” 

So the king and his retinue started, greedy for pearl necklaces. And 
the king in his palanquin clasped the monkey to his bosom, showmg 
him honor as they traveled. For there is wisdom in the saying; 

The hair grows old with aging years; 

The teeth grow old, the eyes and ears. 

But while the aging seasons speed. 

One thing is young forever — greed. 

At dawn they reached the lake and the monkey said to the king: “O 
King, fulfilment comes to those who enter at sunrise. Let all your 
attendants be told, so that they may dash in with one fell swoop. You, 
however, must enter with me, for I will pick the place I found before 
and show you plenty of pearl necklaces.” So all the attendants entered 
and were eaten by the fiend. 

Then, as they lingered, the king said to monkey: “Well, chief, why 
do my attendants linger?” And the monkey hurriedly climbed a tree 
before saying to the king: “You villainous king, your attendants are 
eaten by a fiend that lives in the water. My enmity with you, arising 
from the death of my household, has been brought to a happy termina- 
tion. Now go. I did not make you enter there, because I remembered 
that you were the king. Thus you plotted the death of my household, 
and I of yours.” 

When the king heard this, he hastened home, grief-stricken. 

THE LION-MAKERS 

In a certain town were four Brahmans who lived in friendship. Three 
of them had reached the far shore of all scholarship, but lacked sense. 
The other found scholarship distasteful; he had nothing but sense. 

One day they met for consultation. “What is the use of attainments,” 
said they, “if one does not travel, win the favor of kings, and acquire 
money? Whatever we do, let us all travel,” 



THE PANCHATANTRA 277 

But when they had gone a little way, the eldest of them said : “One of 
us, the fourth, is a dullard, having nothing but sense. Now nobody gains 
the favorable attention of kings by simple sense without scholarship. 
Therefore we will not share our earnings with him. Let him turn back 
and go home.” 

Then the second said: “My intelligent friend, you lack scholarship. 
Please go home.” But the third said: “No, no. This is no way to behave. 
For we have played together since we were little boys. Come along, 
my noble friend. You shall have a share of the money we earn.” 

With this agreement they continued their journey, and in a forest 
they found the bones of a dead lion. Thereupon one of them said: “A 
good opportunity to test the ripeness of our scholarship. Here lies some 
kind of creature, dead. Let us bring it to life by means of the scholar- 
ship we have honestly won.” 

Then the first said: “I know how to assemble the skeleton.” The 
second said: “I can supply skin, flesh, and blood.” The third said: “I 
can give it life.” 

So the first assembled the skeleton, the second provided skin, flesh, 
and blood. But while the third was intent on giving the breath of life, 
the man of sense advised against it, remarking: “This is a lion. If you 
bring him to life, he will kill every one of us.” 

“You simpleton!” said the other, “it is not I who will reduce scholar- 
ship to a nullity.” “In that case,” came the reply, “wait a moment, while 
I climb this convenient tree.” 

When this had been done, the lion was brought to life, rose up, and 
killed all three. But the man of sense, after the lion had gone elsewhere, 
climbed down and went home. 

“And that is why I say : 

Scholarship is less than sense; 

Therefore seek intelligence: 

Senseless scholars in their pride 

Made a lion; then they died.” 

MOUSE-MAID MADE MOUSE 

The billows of the Ganges were dotted with pearly foam born of the 
leaping of fishes frightened at hearing the roar of the waters that broke 
on the rugged, rocky shore. On the bank was a hermitage crowded with 



INDIAN HUMOR 


2yS 

holy men devoting their time to the performance of sacred rites — 
chanting, self-denial, self-torture, study, fasting, and sacrifice. They 
would take purified water only, and that in measured sips. Their bodies 
wasted under a diet of bulbs, roots, fruits, and moss. A loin-cloth made 
of bark formed their scanty raiment. 

The father of the hermitage was named Yajnavalkya. After he had 
bathed in the sacred stream and had begun to rinse his mouth, a little 
female mouse dropped from a hawk’s beak and fell into his hand. When 
he saw what she was, he laid her on a banyan leaf, repeated his bath and 
mouth-nnsing, and performed a ceremony of purification. Then through 
the magic power of his holiness, he changed her into a girl, and took her 
with him to his hermitage. 

As his wife was childless, he said to her: “Take her, my dear wife. 
She has come into life as your daughter, and you must rear her care- 
fully.” So the wife reared her and spoiled her with petting. As soon as 
the girl reached the age of twelve, the mother saw that she was ready for 
marriage, and said to her husband: “My dear husband, how can you 
fail to see that the time is passing when your daughter should marry?” 

And he replied: “You are quite right, my dear. The saying goes; 

For if she bides a maiden still. 

She gives herself to whom she will; 

Then marry her in tender age: 

So warns the heaven-begotten sage. 

If she, unwed, unpurified. 

Too long within the home abide, 

She may no longer married be: 

A miserable spinster, she. 

A father then, avoiding sin. 

Weds her, the appointed time within 
(Where’er a husband may be had) 

To good, indifferent, or bad. 

Now I will try to give her to one of her own station. You know the 
saying: 

Where wealth is very much the same, 

And similar the family fame, 

Marriage (or friendship) is secure; 

But not between the rich and poor. 



THE PANCHATANTRA 279 

“But 

Get money, good looks; 

And knowledge of books, 

Good family, youth. 

Position, and truth. 

“So, if she is willing, I will summon the blessM sun, and give her to 
him.” “I see no harm in that,” said his wife. “Let it be done.” 

The holy man therefore summoned the sun, who appeared without 
delay, and said: “Holy sir, why am I summoned?” The father said: 
“Here is a daughter of mine. Be kind enough to marry her.” Then, 
turning to his daughter, he said : “Little girl, how do you like him, this 
blessM lamp of the three worlds?” “No, father,” said the girl. “He is too 
burning hot. I could not like him. Please summon another one, more 
excellent than he is.” 

Upon hearmg this, the holy man said to the sun: “BlessM one, is 
there any superior to you?” And the sun replied: “Yes, the cloud is 
superior even to me. When he covers me, I disappear.” 

So the holy man summoned the cloud next, and said to the maiden: 
“Little girl, I will give you to him.” “No,” said she. “This one is black 
and frigid. Give me to someone finer than he.” 

Then the holy man asked: “O cloud, is there anyone superior to you?” 
And the cloud replied : “The wind is superior even to me.” 

So he summoned the wind, and said: “Little girl, I give you to him.” 
“Father,” said she, “this one is too fidgety. Please invite somebody su- 
perior even to him.” So the holy man said: “O wind, is there anyone 
superior even to you?” “Yes,” said the wind. “The mountain is superior 
to me.” 

So he summoned the mountain and said to the maiden: “Little girl, 
I give you to him.” “Oh, father,” said she. “He is rough all over, and 
stiff. Please give me to somebody else.” 

So the holy man asked : “O kingly mountain, is there anyone superior 
even to you?” “Yes,” said the mountain. “Mice are superior to me.” ^ 

Then the holy man summoned a mouse, and presented him to the 
little girl, saying: “Little girl, do you like this mouse?” 

The moment she saw him, she felt: “My own kind, my own kind,” 
and her body thrilled and quivered, and she said: “Father dear, turn 
me into a mouse, and give me to him. Then I can keep house as my 
kind of people ought to do.” 

^ Because mice bore holes in the mountain sides. 



INDIAN HUMOR 


280 

And her father, through the magic power of his holiness, turned her 
into a mouse, and gave her to him. 

“And that is why I say: 

Though mountain, sun, and cloud, and wind 
Were suitors at her feet. 

The mouse-maid turned a mouse again — 

Nature is hard to beat/’ 

THE DUEL BETWEEN ELEPHANT AND SPARROW 

In a dense bit of jungle lived a sparrow and his wife, who had built 
their nest on the branch of a tamal tree, and in course of time a family 
appeared. 

Now one day a jungle elephant with the spring fever was distressed by 
the heat, and came beneath that tamal tree m search of shade. Blinded 
by his fever, he pulled with the tip of his trunk at the branch where the 
sparrows had their nest, and broke it. In the process the sparrows’ eggs 
were crushed, though the parent-birds — further life being predestined 
— ^barely escaped death. 

Then the hen-sparrow lamented, desolate with grief at the death of 
her chicks. And presently, hearing her lamentation, a woodpecker bird, 
a great friend of hers, came grieved at her grief, and said: “My dear 
friend, why lament m vain? For the Scripture says: 

For lost and dead and past 
The wise have no laments: 

Between the wise and fools 
Is just this difference.” 

“That is good doctrine,” said the hen-sparrow, “but what of it ? This 
elephant — curse his spring fever! — skilled my babies. So if you are my 
friend, think of some plan to kill this big elephant. If that were done, I 
should feel less grief at the death of my children.” 

“Madam,” said the woodpecker, “your remark is very true. For the 
proverb says: 

A friend in need is a friend indeed, 

Although of different caste; 

The whole world is your eager friend 
So long as riches last. 



THE PANCHATANTRA 


281 


“Now see what my wit can devise. But you must know that I, too, 
have a friend, a gnat called Lute-Buzz. I will return with her, so that 
this villainous beast of an elephant may be killed.” 

So he went with the hen-sparrow, found the gnat, and said: “Dear 
madam, this is my friend the hen-sparrow. She is mourning because a 
villainous elephant smashed her eggs. So you must lend your assistance 
while I work out a plan for killing him.” 

“My good friend,” said the gnat, “there is only one possible answer. But 
I also have a very intimate friend, a frog named Cloud-Messenger. Let 
us do the right thing by calling him into consultation.” 

So all three went together and told Cloud-Messenger the entire story. 
And the frog said: “How feeble a thing is that wretched elephant when 
pitted against a great throng enraged! Gnat, you must go and buzz in 
his fevered ear, so that he may shut his eyes in delight at hearing your 
music. Then the woodpecker’s bill will peck out his eyes. After that I 
will sit on the edge of a pit and croak. And he, being thirsty, will hear 
me, and will approach expecting to find a body of water. When he 
comes to the pit, he will fall in and perish.” 

When they carried out the plan, the fevered elephant shut his eyes 
in delight at the song of the gnat, was blinded by the woodpecker, 
wandered thirst-smitten at noonday, followed the croak of a frog, came 
to a great pit, fell in, and died. 

“And that is why I say : 

Woodpecker and sparrow, 

With froggy and gnat, 

Attacking en masse, laid 
The elephant flat.” 

THE HERON THAT LIKED CRABMEAT 

There was once a heron in a certain place on the edge of a pond. Being 
old, he sought an easy way of catching fish on which to live. He began 
by lingering at the edge of his pond, pretending to be quite irresolute, 
not eating even the fish within his reach. 

Now among the fish lived a crab. He drew near and said: “Uncle, 
why do you neglect today your usual meals and amusements.?” And 
the heron replied: “So long as I kept fat and flourishing by eating fish, 
I spent my time pleasandy, enjoying the taste of you. But a great dis- 



INDIAN HUMOR 


282 

aster will soon befall you. And as I am old, this will cut short the pleasant 
course of my life. For this reason I feel depressed.” 

“Uncle,” said the crab, “of what nature is the disaster.?” And the 
heron continued:' “Today I overheard the talk of a number of fishermen 
as they passed near the pond. ‘This is a big pond,’ they were saying, 
‘full of fish. We will try a cast of the net tomorrow or the day after. But 
today we will go to the lake near the city.’ This being so, you are lost, 
my food supply is cut off, I too am lost, and in grief at the thought, I 
am indifferent to food today.” 

Now when the water-dwellers heard the trickster’s report, they all 
feared for their lives and implored the heron, saying: “Unclel Father! 
Brother! Friend! Thinker! Since you are informed of the calamity, you 
also know the remedy. Pray save us from the jaws of this death.” 

Then the heron said: “I am a bird, not competent to contend with 
men. This, however, I can do. I can transfer you from this pond to 
another, a bottomless one.” By this artful speech they were so led astray 
that they said: “Unclel Friend! Unselfish kinsman! Take me first! Me 
first! Did you never hear this? 

Stout hearts delight to pay the price 
Of merciful self-sacrifice, 

Count life as nothing, if it end 
In gentle service to a friend.” 

Then the old rascal laughed in his heart, and took counsel with his 
mind, thus: “My shrewdness has brought these fishes into my power. 
They ought to be eaten very comfortably.” Having thus thought it 
through, he promised what the thronging fish implored, lifted some in 
his bill, carried them a certain distance to a slab of stone, and ate them 
there. Day after day he made the trip with supreme delight and satis- 
faction, and meeting the fish, kept their confidence by ever new inven- 
tions. 

One day the crab, disturbed by the fear of death, importuned him 
with the words: “Uncle, pray save me, too, from the jaws of death.” 
And the heron reflected: ‘T am quite tired of this unvarying fish diet. 
I should like to taste him. He is different, and choice.” So he picked 
up the crab and flew through the air. 

But since he avoided all bodies of water and seemed planning to 
alight on the sun-scorched rock, the crab asked him: “Uncle, where is 
that pond without any bottom?” And the heron laughed and said; 



THE PANCHATANTRA 283 

“Do you see that broad, sun-scorched rock ? All the water-dwellers have 
found repose there. Your turn has now come to find "repose.” 

Then the crab looked down and saw a great rock of sacrifice, made 
horrible by heaps of fish-skeletons. And he thought: “Ah me! 

If you will, with serpents play; 

Dwell with foemen who betray: 

Shun your false and foolish friends, 

Fickle, seeking vicious ends. 

Why, he has already eaten these fish whose skeletons are scattered in 
heaps. So what might be an opportune course of action for me.? Yet 
why do I need to consider.? 

Fear fearful things, while yet 
No fearful thing appears; 

When danger must be met, 

Strike, and forget your fears. 

So, before he drops me there, I will catch his neck with all four claws.*’ 
When he did so, the heron tried to escape, but being a fool, he found 
no parry to the grip of the crab’s nippers, and had his head cut off. 

Then the crab painfully made his way back to the pond, dragging the 
heron’s neck as if it had been a lotus-stalk. And when he came among 
the fish, they said: “Brother, why come back?” Thereupon he showed 
the head as his credentials and said: “He enticed the water-dwellers 
from every quarter, deceived them with his prevarications, dropped 
them on a slab of rock not far away, and ate them. But I — further life 
being predestined — perceived that he destroyed the trustful, and I have 
brought back his neck. Forget your worries. All the water-dwellers 
shall live in peace.” 

THE UNTEACHABLE MONKEY 

In a part of a forest was a troop of monkeys who found a firefly one 
winter evening when they were dreadfully depressed. On examining 
the insect, they believed it to be fire, so lifted it with care, covered it 
with dry grass and leaves, thrust forward their arms, sides, stomachs, 
and chests, scratched themselves, and enjoyed imagining that they 
were warm. One of the arboreal creatures in particular, being especially 
chilly, blew repeatedly and with concentrated attention on the firefly. 



INDIAN HUMOR 


284 

Thereupon a bird named Needle-Face, driven by hostile fate to her 
own destruction, flew down from her tree and said to the monkey: 
“My dear sir, do not put yourself to unnecessary trouble. This is not 
fire. This is a firefly ” He, however, did not heed her warning but blew 
again, nor did he stop when she tried more than once to check him. To 
cut a long story short, when she vexed him by coming close and shouting 
in his ear, he seized her and dashed her on a rock, crushing face, eyes, 
head, and neck so that she died. 

“And that is why I say : 

No knife prevails against a stone; 

Nor bends the unbending tree; 

No good advice from Needle-Face 
Helped indocility.*’ 


THE BRAHMAN’S GOAT 

In a certain town lived a Brahman named Friendly who had under- 
taken the labor of maintaining the sacred fire. One day in the month 
of February, when a gentle breeze was blowing, when the sky was veiled 
in clouds and a drizzling rain was falling, he went to another village 
to beg a victim for the sacrifice, and said to a certain man: “O sacrificer, 
I wish to make an offering on the approaching day of the new moon. 
Pray give me a victim.” And the man gave him a plump goat, as pre- 
scribed in Scripture. This he put through its paces, found it sound, 
placed it on his shoulder, and started in haste for his own city. 

Now on the road he was met by three rogues whose throats were 
pinched with hunger. These, spying the plump creature on his shoulder, 
whispered together: “Come now! If we could eat that creature, we 
should have the laugh on this sleety weather. Let us fool him, get the 
goat, and ward off the cold.” 

So the first of them changed his dress, issued from a by-path to meet 
the Brahman, and thus addressed that man of pious life: “O pious 
Brahman, why arc you doing a thing so unconventional and so ridicu- 
lous? You are carrying an unclean animal, a dog, on your shoulder. 

At that the Brahman was mastered by anger, and he said: “Are you 
blind, man, that you impute doghood to a goat?” “O Brahman/’ said 
the rogue, “do not be angry. Go whither you will.” 



THE PANCHATANTRA 285 

But when he had traveled a little farther, the second rogue met him 
and said: “Alas, holy sir, alas! Even if this dead calf was a pet, still you 
should not put it on your shoulder.” 

Then the Brahman spoke in anger: “Are you blind, man? You call 
a goat a calf.” And the rogue said: “Holy sir, do not be angry. I spoke 
in ignorance. Do as you will.” 

But when he had walked only a little farther through the forest, the 
third rogue, changing his dress, met him and said: “Sir, this is most 
improper. You are carrying a donkey on your shoulder. Pray drop this 
thing, before another sees you.” 

So the Brahman concluded that it was a goblin in quadruped form, 
threw it on the ground, and made for home, terrified. Meanwhile, the 
three rogues met, caught the goat, and carried out their plan. 

“And that is why I say: 

The strong, deft, clever rascals note, 

Who robbed the Brahman of his goat.” 

“Moreover, there is sound sense in this: 

Is any man uncheated by 
New servants’ diligence. 

The praise of guests, the maiden’s tears, 

And roguish eloquence? 

Furthermore, one should avoid a quarrel with a crowd, though the indi- 
viduals be weak. As the verse puts it: 

Beware the populace enraged; 

A crowd’s a fearsome thing: 

The ants devoured the giant snake 
For all his quivering.” 

THE SNAKE IN THE PRINCE’S BELLY 

In a certain city dwelt a king whose name was Godlike. He had a 
son who wasted daily in every limb because of a snake that used his 
belly as a home instead of an ant-hill. So. the prince became dejected 
and went to another country. In a city of that country he begged alms, 
spending his time in a great temple. 



INDIAN HUMOR 


286 

Now in that city was a king named Gift, who had two daughters in 
early womanhood. One of these bowed daily at her father’s feet with 
the greeting: “Victory, O King,” while the other said: “Your deserts, 
O King.” 

At this the king grew very angry, and said: “See, counselors. This 
young lady speaks malevolently. Give her to some foreigner. Let her 
have her own deserts.” To this the counselors agreed, and gave the 
princess, with very few maid-servants, to the prince who made his home 
in the temple. 

And she was delighted, accepted her husband like a god, and went 
with him to a far country. There by the edge of a tank in a distant city 
she left the prince to look after the house while she went with her maids 
to buy butter, oil, salt, rice, and other supplies. When her shopping was 
done, she returned and found the prince with his head resting on an 
ant-hill. And from his mouth issued the head of a hooded snake, taking 
the air. Likewise another snake crawled from the ant-hill, also to take 
the air. 

When these two saw each other, their eyes grew red with anger, and 
the ant-hill snake said: “You villain! How can you torment in this way 
a prince who is so perfectly handsome?” And the snake in the prince’s 
mouth said: “Villain yourself! How can you bemire those two pots 
full of gold?” In this fashion each laid bare the other’s weakness. 

Then the ant-hill snake continued: “You villain! Doesn’t anybody 
know the simple remedy of drinking black mustard and so destroying 
you?” And the belly-snake retorted: “And doesn’t anybody know the 
simple way to destroy you, by pouring in hot water?” 

Now the princess, hiding behind a branch, overheard their conversa- 
tion, and did just as they suggested. So she made her husband sound 
and well, and acquired vast wealth. When she returned to her own 
country, she was highly honored by father, mother, and relatives, and 
lived happily. For she had her deserts. 

“And that is why I say: 

Be quick with mutual defense 
In honest give-and-take; 

Or perish like the ant-hill beast 
And like the belly-snake.” 



THE PANCHATANTRA 


287 


THE GULLIBLE HUSBAND 

There was once a carpenter in a certain village. His wife was a whore, 
and reputed to be such. So he, desiring to test her, thought: “How can 
I put her to the test.? For the proverb says: 

Fire chills, rogues bless, and moonlight burns 
Before a wife to virtue turns. 

“Now I know from popular gossip that she is unfaithfux. For the 
saying goes : 

All things that are not seen or heard 
In science or the Sacred Word, 

All things in interstellar space 
Are known among the populace.” 

After these reflections, he said to his wife: “Tomorrow morning, my 
dear, I am going to another village, where I shall be detained several 
days. Please put me up a nice lunch.” And her heart quivered when she 
heard this; she eagerly dropped everything to make delicious dishes, 
almost pure butter and sugar. In fact, the old saw was justified: 

When lowering clouds 
Shut in the day, 

When streets are mired 
With sticky clay, 

When husband lingers 
Far away, 

The flirt becomes 
Supremely gay. 

Now at dawn the carpenter rose and left his house. When she had 
made sure that he was gone, with laughing countenance she spent the 
dragging day in trying on all her best things. Then she called on an 
old lover and said: “My husband has gone to another village — the 
rascal! Please come to our house when the people are asleep.” And he 
did so. 

Now the carpenter spent the day in the forest, stole into his own 
house at twilight by a side entrance, and hid under the bed. At this 
juncture the other fellow arrived and got into bed. And when the car- 



INDIAN HUMOR 


288 

penteV saw him, his heart was stabbed by wrath, and he thought: “Shall 
I rise and smite him? Or shall I wait until they are asleep and kill them 
both without effort? Or again, shall I wait to see how she behaves, 
listen to what she says to him?” At this moment she softly locked the 
door and went to bed. 

But as she did so, she stubbed her toe on the carpenter’s body. And 
she thought: “It must be that carpenter — the rascal! — who is testing me. 
Well, I will give him a taste of woman’s tricks.” 

While she was thinking, the fellow became insistent. But she clasped 
her hands and said: “Dear and honored sir, you must not touch me.” 
And he said: “Well, well! For what purpose did you invite me?” 

“Listen,” said she. “I went this morning to Gauri’s shrine to see the 
goddess. There all at once I heard a voice in the sky, saying: ‘What am 
I to do, my daughter? You are devoted to me, yet in six months’ time, 
by the decree of fate, you will be a widow.’ Then I said: ‘O blessed god- 
dess, since you are aware of the calamity, you also know the remedy. 
Is there any means of making my husband live a hundred years?’ And 
the goddess replied : ‘Indeed there is — a remedy depending on you alone.’ 
Of course I said: ‘If it cost my life, pray tell me, and I will do it.’ Then 
the goddess said: ‘If you go to bed with another man, and embrace him, 
then the untimely death that threatens your husband will pass to him. 
And your husband will live another hundred years.’ For this purpose 
I invited you. Now do what you had in mind. The words of a goddess 
must not be falsified— -so much is certain.” Then his face blossomed with 
noiseless laughter, and he did as she said. 

Now the carpenter, fool that he was, felt his body thrill with joy on 
hearing her words, and he issued from under the bed, saying: “Bravo, 
faithful wife! Bravo, delight of the family! Because my heart was 
troubled by the gossip of evil creatures, I pretended a trip to another 
village in order to test you, and lay hidden under the bed. Come now, 
embrace me!” 

With these words he embraced her and lifted her to his shoulder, then 
said to the fellow: “My dear and honored sir, you have come here 
because my good deeds earned this happiness. Through your favor I 
have won a full hundred years of life. You, too, must mount my 
shoulder.” 

So he forced the fellow, much against his will, to mount his shoulder, 
and then went dancing about to the doors of the houses of all his rela- 
tives. 



THE PANCHATANTRA 


289 


“And that is why I say: 

It argues utter want of sense 
To pardon obvious offense; 

The carpenter upon his head 

Took wife and him who fouled his bed.” 


THE BUTTER-BLINDED BRAHMAN 

There was once a Brahman named Theodore in a certain town. His 
wife, being unchaste and a pursuer of other men, was forever making 
cakes with sugar and butter for a lover, and so cheating her husband. 

Now one day her husband saw her and said: “My dear wife, what 
are you cooking? And where are you forever carrying cakes? Tell the 
truth.” 

But her impudence was equal to the occasion, and she lied to her 
husband: “There is a shrine of the blessM goddess not far from here. 
There I have undertaken a fasting ceremony, and I take an offering, 
including the most delicious dishes.” Then she took the cakes before 
his very eyes and started for the shrine of the goddess, imagining that 
after her statement, her husband would believe it was for the goddess 
that his wife was daily providing delicious dishes. Having reached the 
shrine, she went down to the river to perform the ceremonial bath. 

Meanwhile her husband arrived by another road and hid behind the 
statue of the goddess. And his wife entered the shrine after her bath, 
performed the various rites — laving, anointing, giving incense, making 
an offering,' and so on — bowed before the goddess, and prayed: “O 
blessed one, how may my husband be made blind?” 

Then the Brahman behind the goddess’ back spoke, disguising his 
natural tone: “If you never stop giving him such food as butter and 
butter-cakes, then he will presently go blind.” 

Now that loose female, deceived by the plausible revelation, gave the 
Brahman just that kind of food every day. One day the Brahman said: 
“My dear, I don’t see very well.” And she thought: “Thank the god- 
dess.” 

Then the favored lover thought: “The Brahman has gone blind. 
What can he do to me?” Whereupon he came daily to the house with- 
out hesitation. 

But at last the Brahman caught him as he entered, seized him by the 



INDIAN HUMOR 


290 

hair, and clubbed and kicked him to such effect that he died. He also 
cut off his wicked wife’s nose, and dismissed her. 

THE BRAHMAN, THE THIEF, AND THE GHOST 

There was once a poor Brahman in a certain place. He lived on presents, 
and always did without such luxuries as fine clothes and ointments and 
perfumes and garlands and gems and betel-gum. His beard and his nails 
were long, and so was the hair that covered his head and his body. Heat, 
cold, rain, and the like had dried him up. 

Then someone pitied him and gave him two calves. And the Brahman 
began when they were little and fed them on butter and oil and fodder 
and other things that he begged. So he made them very plump. 

Then a thief saw them and the idea came to him at once: “I will steal 
these two cows from this Brahman.” So he took a rope and set out at 
night. But on the way he met a fellow with a row of sharp teeth set far 
apart, with a high-bridged nose and uneven eyes, with limbs covered 
with knotty muscles, with hollow cheeks, with beard and body as yellow 
as a fire with much butter in it. 

And when the thief saw him, he started with acute fear and said; 
‘‘Who are you, sir?” 

The other said; “I am a ghost named Truthful. It is now your turn to 
explain yourself.” 

The thief said: “I am a thief, and my acts are cruel. I am on my way 
to steal two cows from a poor Brahman.” 

Then the ghost felt relieved and said : “My dear sir, I take one meal 
every three days. So I will just eat this Brahman today. It is delightful 
that you and I are on the same errand.” 

So together they went there and hid, waiting for the proper moment. 
And when the Brahman went to sleep, the ghost started forward to eat 
him. But the thief saw him and said: “My dear sir, this is not right. You 
are not to eat the Brahman until I have stolen his two cows.” 

The ghost said: “The racket would most likely wake the Brahman. In 
that case all my trouble would be vain.” 

“But, on the other hand,” said the thief, “if any hindrance arises when 
you start to eat him, then I cannot steal the two cows either. First I will 
steal the two cows, then you may eat the Brahman.” 

So they disputed, each crying “Me first! Me first!” And when they 
became heated, the hubbub waked the Brahman, Then the thief said; 



THE PANCHATANTRA 


291 

“Brahman, this is a ghost who wishes to eat you.” And the ghost said: 
“Brahman, this is a thief who wishes to steal your two cows.” 

When the Brahman heard this, he stood up and took a good look. And 
by remembering a prayer to his favorite god, he saved his life from the 
ghost, then lifted a club and saved his two cows from the thief. 

“And that is why I say : 

From enemies expect relief, 

If discord pierce their host; 

Thus, life was given by the thief 
And cattle by the ghost ” 

THE LOYAL MUNGOOSE 

There was once a Brahman named Godly in a certain town. His wife 
mothered a single son and a mungoose. And as she loved little ones, she 
cared for the mungoose also like a son, giving him milk from her breast, 
and salves, and baths, and so on. But she did not trust him, for she 
thought: “A mungoose is a nasty kind of creature. He might hurt my 
boy.” 

One day she tucked her son in bed, took a water-jar, and said to her 
husband: “Now, Professor, I am going for water. You must protect the 
boy from the mungoose.” But when she was gone, the Brahman went 
off somewhere himself to beg food, leaving the house empty. 

While he was gone, a black snake issued from his hole and, as fate 
would have it, crawled toward the baby’s cradle. But the mungoose, feel- 
ing him to be a natural enemy, and fearing for the life of his baby brother, 
fell upon the vicious serpent halfway, joined battle with him, tore him to 
bits, and tossed the pieces far and wide. Then, delighted with his own 
heroism, he ran, blood trickling from his mouth, to meet the mother; 
for he wished to show what he had done. 

But when the mother saw him coming, saw his bloody mouth and his 
excitement, she feared that the villain must have eaten her baby boy, 
and without thinking twice, she angrily dropped the water-jar upon him, 
which killed him the moment that it struck. There she left him without 
a second thought, and hurried home, where she found the baby safe and 
sound, and near the cradle a great black snake, torn to bits. Then, over- 
whelmed with sorrow because she had thoughtlessly killed her bene- 
factor, her son, she beat her head an4 breast. 



INDIAN HUMOR 


292 

At this moment the Brahman came home with a dish of rice gruel 
which he had got from someone in his begging tour, and saw his wife 
bitterly lamenting her son, the mungoose. “Greedy! Greedy!” she cried. 
“Because you did not do as I told you, you must now taste the bitterness 
of a son’s death, the fruit of the tree of your own wickedness. Yes, this is 
what happens to those blinded by greed.” 

THE MICE THAT SET ELEPHANTS FREE 

There was once a region where people, houses, and temples had fallen 
into decay. So the mice, who were old settlers there, occupied the chinks 
in the floors of stately dwellings with sons, grandsons (both in the male 
and female line), and further descendants as they were born, until their 
holes formed a dense tangle. They found uncommon happiness in a 
variety of festivals, dramatic performances (with plots of their own in- 
vention), wedding-feasts, eating-parties, drinking-bouts, and similar 
diversions. And so the time passed. 

But into this scene burst an elephant-king, whose retinue numbered 
thousands. He, with his herd, had started for the lake upon information 
that there was water there. As he marched through the mouse com- 
munity, he crushed faces, eyes, heads, and necks of such mice as he 
encountered. 

Then the survivors held a convention. “We are being killed,” they 
said, “by these lumbering elephants — curse them! If they come this way 
again, there will not be mice enough for seed. Therefore let us devise a 
remedy effective in this crisis.” 

When they had done so, a certain number went to the lake, bowed 
before the elephant-king, and said respectfully : “O King, not far from 
here is our community, inherited from a long line of ancestors. There 
we have prospered through a long succession of sons and grandsons. 
Now you gentlemen, while coming here to water, have destroyed us by 
the thousand. Furthermore, if you travel that way again, there will not 
be enough of us for seed. If then you feel compassion toward us, pray 
travel another path. Consider the fact that even creatures of our size will 
some day prove of some service.” 

And the elephant-king turned over in his mind what he had heard, 
decided that the statement of the mice was entirely logical, and granted 
their request. 

Now in the course of time a certain king commanded his elephant- 



THE PANCHATANTRA 293 

trappers to trap elephants. And they constructed a so-called water-trap, 
caught the king with his herd, three days later dragged him out with a 
great tackle made of ropes and things, and tied him to stout trees in that 
very bit of forest. 

When the trappers had gone, the elephant-king reflected thus: “In 
what manner, or through whose assistance, shall I be delivered?” Then 
it occurred to him : “We have no means of deliverance except those mice.” 

So the king sent the mice an exact description of his disastrous position 
in the trap through one of his personal retinue, an elephant-cow who had 
not ventured into the trap, and who had previous information of the 
mouse community. 

When the mice learned the matter, they gathered by the thousand, 
eager to return the favor shown them, and visited the elephant herd. 
And seeing king and herd fettered, they gnawed the guy-ropes where 
they stood, then swarmed up the branches, and by cutting the ropes 
aloft, set their friends free. 

“And that is why I say: 

Make friends, make friends, however strong 
Or weak they be: 

Recall the captive elephants 
That mice set free.” 


THE ASS IN THE TIGER-SKIN 

There was once a laundryman named Clean-Cloth in a certain town. 
He had a single donkey who had grown very feeble from lack of fodder. 

As the laundry man wandered in the forest, he saw a dead tiger, and 
he thought: “Ah, this is lucky. I will put this tiger-skin on the donkey 
and let him loose in the barley fields at night. For the farmers will think 
him a tiger and will not drive him out.” 

When this was done, the donkey ate barley to his heart’s content. And 
at dawn the laundryman took him back to the barn. So as time passed, 
he grew plump. He could hardly squeeze into the stall 
But one day the donkey heard the bray of a she-donkey in the distance. 
,At the mere sound he himself began to bray. Then the farmers perceived 
that he was a donkey in disguise, and killed him with blows from clubs 
and stones and arrows. 



INDIAN HaMOR 


294 

“And that is why 1 say: 

However skilful in disguise, 

However frightful to the eyes, 

Although in tiger-skin arrayed. 

The ass was killed — because he brayed.” 

THE FARMER’S WIFE 

There was once a farmer who lived with his wife in a certain place. 
And because the husband was old, the wife was forever thinking of lovers, 
and could not possibly be contented at home. Her one idea was strange 
men. 

Now a rogue who lived by pilfering, noticed her and said: “You lovely 
creature, my wife is dead, and I am smitten with love at the sight of you. 
Pray enrich me with love’s perfect treasure.” 

And she said: “You beautiful man, if you feel that way, my husband 
has a great deal of money, and he is so old that he cannot stir. I will bring 
it, so that I may go somewhere with you and enjoy the delights of love.” 

“That is satisfactory to me,” he replied. “Suppose you hasten to this 
spot at dawn, so that we may go together to some fascinating city where 
life may bear for me its perfect fruit.” “Very well,” she agreed, and went 
home with laughing countenance. 

Then at night, while her husband slept, she took all the money, and 
reached the rendezvous at dawn. The rogue, for his part, put her in front, 
started south, and traveled two leagues, gaily enjoying the delights of 
conversation with her. But when he saw a river ahead, he reflected: 
“What am I to do with this middle-aged female ? Besides, someone might 
perhaps pursue her. I will just take her money and be off.” 

So he said to her: “My dear, this is a great river, hard to cross. I will 
just take the money and put it safe on the far bank, then return to carry 
you alone on my back, and so transport you in comfort.” “Do so, my 
belovM,” said she. 

So he took the money to the last penny, and then he said: “Dearest, 
hand me your dress and your wrap, too, so that you may travel through 
the water tinembarrassed.” And when she did so, the rogue took the 
money and the two garments and went to the place he had in mind. 

Then the farmer’s wife sat down woebegone on the river-bank, digging 
her two hands into her throat. At that moment a she-jackal came to the 
spot, carrying a piece of meat. As she came up and peered about, a great 



THE PANCHATANTRA 


295 

fish leaped from the water and was stranded on the bank. On spying 
him, she dropped the meat and darted at the fish. Whereupon a vulture 
swooped from the sky and flew off with the meat. And the fish, perceiv- 
ing the jackal, struggled into the river. So the she-jackal had her pains 
for nothing, and as she gazed after the vulture, the naked woman smiled 
and said : 

“You poor she-jackal! 

The vulture has your meat; 

The water holds your fish; 

Of fish and flesh forlorn. 

What further do you wish?” 

And the she-jackal, perceiving that the woman was equally forlorn, 
having lost her husband’s money and her lover, said with a sneer : 

“You naked thing! 

Your cleverness is twice 
As great as mine, ’twould seem; 

Lover and husband lost, 

You sit beside the stream.” 

THE BRAHMAN’S DREAM 

In a certain town lived a Brahman named Seedy, who got some barley- 
meal by begging, ate a portion, and filled a jar with the remainder. This 
jar he hung on a peg one night, placed his cot beneath it, and fixing his 
gaze on the jar, fell into a hypnotic reverie. 

“Well, here is a jar full of barley-meal,” he thought. “Now if famine 
comes, a hundred rupees will come out of it. With that sum I will get 
two she-goats. Every six months they will bear two more she-goats. After 
goats, cows. When the cows calve, I will sell the calves. After cows, 
buffaloes; after buffaloes, mares. From the mares I shall get plenty of 
horses. The sale of these will mean plenty of gold. The gold will buy a 
great house with an inner court. Then someone will come to my house 
and offer his lovely daughter with a dowry. She will bear a son, whom I 
shall name Moon-Lord. When he is old enough to ride on my knee, I 
will take a book, sit on the stable roof, and think. Just then Moon-Lord 
will see me, will jump from his mother’s lap in his eagerness to ride on 
my knee, and will go too near the horses. Then I shall get angry and 
tell my wife to take the boy. But she will be busy with her chores and 



INDIAN HUMOR 


296 

Will not pay attention to what I say. Then I will get up and kick her.” 

Being sunk in his hypnotic dream, he let fly such a kick that he smashed 
the jar. And the barley-meal which it contained turned him white all over, 

SHELL-NECK, SLIM, AND GRIM 

In a certain lake lived a turtle named Shell-Neck. He had as friends 
two ganders whose names were Slim and Grim. Now in the vicissitudes 
of time there came a twelve-year drought, which begot ideas of this 
nature in the two ganders: “This lake has gone dry. Let us seek another 
body of water. However, we must first say farewell to Shell-Neck, our 
dear and long-proved friend.” 

When they did so, the turtle said: “Why do you bid me farewell? I am 
a water-dweller, and here I should perish very quickly from the scant 
supply of water and from grief at loss of you. Therefore, if you feel any 
affection for me, please rescue me from the jaws of this death. Besides, 
as the water dries in this lake, you two suffer nothing beyond a restncted 
diet, while to me it means immediate death. Consider which is more 
serious, loss of food or loss of life.” 

But they replied: “We are unable to take you with us since you are a 
water-creature without wings.” Yet the turtle continued: “There is a 
possible device. Bring a stick of wood.” This they did, whereupon the 
turtle gripped the middle of the stick between his teeth, and said: “Now 
take firm hold with your bills, one on each side, fly up, and travel with 
even flight through the sky, until we discover another desirable body 
of water.” 

But they objected: “There is a hitch in this fine plan. If you happen 
to indulge in the smallest conversation, then you will lose your hold on 
the stick, will fall from a great height, and will be dashed to bits.” 

“Oh,” said the turtle, “from this moment I take a vow of silence, to 
last as long as we are in heaven.” So they carried out the plan, but while 
the two ganders were painfully carrying the turde over a neighboring 
city, the people below noticed the spectacle, and there arose a confused 
buzz of talk as they asked: “What is this cartlike object that two birds 
are carrying through the atmosphere?” 

Hearing this, the doomed turtle was heedless enough to ask: “What 
are these people chattering about?” The moment he spoke, the poor 
simpleton lost his grip and fell to the ground. And persons who wanted 
meat cut him to bits in a moment with sharp knives. 



The Enchanted Parrot 


INTRODUCTION 

The Enchanted Parrot, or the Su\a Saptatt, “Seventy Stories,’* told by 
a parrot to keep her mistress from going out with her lovers for sixty-nine 
successive nights when her husband was away, is a charming collection 
of tales of feminine, and also masculine, infidelity, with a predominant 
sense of the comic, happening in a world of easy make-believe such as sug- 
gested by the Arabian Nights, The tales are for the most part simple and 
naive. Like the Arabian Nights and the Panchatantra, it employs a fram- 
ing story; like the Panchatantra and the Hitopadesa, it employs, but to a 
less extent, the device of a tale within a tale and delights in insertions of 
moral maxims for the edification of the hearers; and like the Ocean of 
Stones^ it rather delights in comments at the expense of women, dull 
husbands and Brahman monks, and in stories of rogues. Again the 
author is unknown, but the book was widely circulated and was certainly 
known to have existed before the eleventh century. These stories suggest 
Boccaccio. 

What lifts The Enchanted Parrot from the rest is that here the com- 
ments are no longer broad generalities of impersonal proverbs, but have 
the distinct individual charm of a modern cynic and woman-hater. 
Cynicism, like that of the Ecclesiastes, is always refreshing, and even 
modern women can stand a few jokes at their expense* 

The arts of women are these: deceitful speech; craft; oaths; pretended 
emotions; pretended weeping; pretended laughter; meaningless pleasures and 

^ Ocean of Stories, a giant collection of Hindu short stones, (Somadeva’s Kathd Sant 
Sagara), translated by C, H. Tawny, 2 vols., Calcutta, 1880. A beautiful ediaon, in 10 
volumes, was pnvately printed for subscnbers only in London. 


297 



INDIAN HUMOR 


298 

pain; asking questions with a deferential air; indifference; equanimity, in 
prosperity or in adversity; making no difference between good and evil; side- 
long glances directed toward lovers — that is the list of the accomplishments 
practiced by the ladies of the town. 

At any rate, no woman of the country need be offended. 

But the author is usually defter and less explicit; besides, he classifies 
women with kings and serpents, all three of whom he hates heartily. 

Kings, women and creepers generally lay hold of what is near to them. 

Put not your trust in rivers, in savage beasts, in horned cattle, in armed 
men, in women, in princes. Kings are like soldiers clad in mail, savage, crooked 
in their ways as serpents creep on you for evil. A king slays with his smile; 
he may pay honor, but he is dangerous; the elephant kills with a touch, the 
serpent with a caress. 

His comments are by no means confined to the subject of women: 

How should one sleep who is overwhelmed with debt, who has a disagree- 
able wife, who is surrounded by enemies 

It is the speaker of unpleasant but wholesome truths who cannot find a 
listener. 

Cleanliness in a crow, honesty in a gambler, mildness in a serpent, women 
satisfied with love, vigor in a eunuch, truth in a drunkard, friendship in a 
king — ^who ever heard of these things.? 

A stranger, if he is a rich man, is a relation; but a kinsman, if he be poor, 
is an outcast. 

And there is something delightfully insinuating in the following: 

Giving, receiving, imparting secrets, asking questions, eating in company — 
these are the five proofs of friendship. 

The following selection is taken from the translation by the Rev. B. 
Hale Wortham (Luzac, London, 1911), with its rather unusual punctua- 
tion somewhat revised. In the words of the translator: 

*‘The Su\a Saptati, seventy tales of a parrot, are quite characteristic of 
Eastern story. The peg on which they hang is a certain Prabhavati. This 
lady’s husband, whose name is Madana, has gone on a long journey. 
He has, however, left her his parrot, a bird which appears to be under 
a charm. Prabhavati, after her husband has been absent some little time, 
begins to feel rather dull, and her attendants, or friends, suggest that 
she had better look out for some admirer to console her during his 
absence. She accordingly is preparing to start on this errand, when the 



THE ENCHANTED PARROT 


299 

parrot suddenly finds his voice, and remarks very strongly on Prabha- 
vati’s disreputable intentions. Prabhavatl makes up her mind to have 
the parrot’s neck wrung, but before actually departing, and ordering 
the bloodthirsty deed to be carried out, she reflects that after all it is only 
a bird speaking, and tells him that she means to go in spite of his well- 
meant advice. This starts the parrot off, and he bids her go by all 
means, if she is as clever as someone whom he knows. Prabhavatl asks 
him who this person may be, and wherein his cleverness consists. This 
leads to Story I, and just when the climax arrives, the parrot stops, and 
asks Prabhavatl and her friends how they think the story ends. Of course 
they don’t know, and the parrot keeps them on tenterhooks for a bit, 
and finally tells them. By this time the evening is tolerably far advanced, 
so that it is of no use for Prabhavatl to set out on her love-making 
expeditions, and she goes to bed with her attendants. This process is 
repeated for sixty-nine evenings, and finally Prabhavati’s husband re- 
turns. From what he gathers, he does not altogether approve of his 
wife’s goings on in his absence, and seems as if he meant to proceed to 
extremities, when the eloquent parrot calms him down with the seven- 
tieth story, after which Madana’s father observes a great festival in 
honor of his son and daughter-in-law, and the parrot, having worked 
out the charm (or the curse), ascends to heaven m a ram of flowers.” 



The Enchanted Parrot 

Translated by the Rev. B. Hale Wortham 

YASODEVI AND HER TRANSMIGRATIONS 

The next e\tening Prabhavatl began to think over her pursuit of a lover, 
and asked the parrot for his advice. The parrot said: “Go, by all means, 
if you desire to go! That is to say, if you are as clever in getting out of 
diflSculties as Yasodevi v^as.” 

“And pray who was Yasodevi.?” rejoinded Prabhavati. 

“If I tell you,” replied the parrot, “and keep you here, perhaps you 
will carry out your intention of wringing my neck.” 

“Never mind,” answered Prabhavati, “be the result what it may, I 
must hear the story of Yasodevi.” 

So the parrot began: 

“There is a town called Nandana, whose prince bore the same name. 
He had a son, Rajasekhara, and Rajasekhara’s wife was called Sasi- 
prabha. Now a certain Dhanasena came across her, and fell violently in 
love with her. He was absolutely consumed with the flame of his pas- 
sion, and at last his mother, Yasodevi, asked him what was the matter. 
With many sighs and tears he told her. He must have the prince’s wife. 
She was very diiflcult to get hold of, but he could not live without her. 
On hearing this, Yasodevi bid him be of good cheer, and said she would 
see what could be done. So she abstained from all food, and putting on 
her best clothes went to Sasiprabha, taking with her a bitch. She as- 
sumed an appearance of grief, and taking Sasiprabha aside, said to her: 
‘You see this bitch; well, you and I and this bitch were sisters in a former 
existence. As for me, I had no compunction in accepting the advances 
of my lovers; you received their addresses, but wiA some hesitation. 
But this was not the case with our sister. She would not have anything 
to do with men at any price; she kept them at a distance, and now you 
300 


THE ENCHANTED PARROT 3OI 

see tQ what a condition she is reduced. She has to live as a bitch, all 
the time recollecting what she was. You, through your reluctance, may 
or may not remember your former state; but as far as I am concerned, 
I have no recollection of it whatever, for I thoroughly enjoyed myself. 
And so I am sorry for you, and I come to warn you by showing you 
this bitch, and telling you her story. If you have got a lover I advise 
you to give him all he wants, and save yourself from the disagreeables 
of a future state like this. For the person who gives liberally will him- 
self be the recipient of endless favors. It is said: “Those who beg from 
house to house, merely let you know that they are there; they do not 
ask for anything, for the liberal always give alms freely according to 
their condition, to those in need of assistance.” ’ 

“Sasiprabha was quite overcome by this address, and embracing Yaso- 
devi wept over her and entreated her assistance in escaping from the 
fate which seemed to impend. So YasodevI introduced Sasiprabha to her 
own son and Rajasekhara, who had been bribed with magnificent 
presents of gold and jewels, was quite willing to let her go, and thought 
that a great piece of good luck had befallen him. 

“So Yasodevi by her skill and cleverness cheated the prince of the 
princess, and gained her own ends. If you are as clever as she was, go; 
if not, stay at home— go to bed, and don’t make a fool of yourself.” 


THE QUEEN AND THE LAUGHING FISH" 

I 

There is a city called Ujjayinl, and the king’s name is Vikramaditya. 
His queen was Kamalina. She was a lady of very noble family, and was 
the king’s favorite wife. One day the king was dining with her and he 
gave her some roast fish. She looked at them (the men present) and 
said, “Sir! I cannot bear to look at these men, much less to touch them!” 
On these words the fish burst into a loud laugh, so loud that it was heard 
by all the people in the town. The king could not understand this, so 
he asked the astrologers, who were acquainted with the language of 
birds, what the fish meant by their laughter. None of them could tell 
him; so he sent for his private chaplain, who was the head of the 
Brahmans in the town, and said: “If you don’t tell me what those fish 

^This is another example of enclosing stones within a story, and of the abundance of 
wise-cracking comments in a Hmdu stor>\ 



INDIAN HUMOR 


302 

meant by laughing at what the queen said, I shall send you and all the 
Brahmans into exile.” The chaplain, on hearing this, was a good deal 
upset, and was quite sure that he and the rest of the reverend gentlemen 
would have to go, for it seemed impossible to find any answer to the 
question. His daughter observed his depressed condition and said: 
“Father! What’s the matter.? Why do you look so dismal.? Tell me the 
cause of the trouble. You know people possessed of wisdom should not 
lose their self-possession even if difficulties arise. For it has been said: 
‘The man who is not overjoyed in prosperity, who is not cast down in 
adversity, who is steadfast in difficulties, such a man as this has been 
born for an everlasting ornament and protection to the world.’ ” 

So the Brahman told his daughter the whole story, and how the king 
had threatened to banish him; since — 

“There is not a single person in this world on whose friendship or 
affection one can rely: how much less on that of a king who walks in 
the ways of treachery.” 

For it has been said — “Cleanliness in a crow; honesty in a gambler; 
mildness in a serpent; women satisfied with love; vigor in a eunuch; 
truth in a drunkard; friendship in a king — who ever heard of these 
things?” 

Moreover — “Put not your trust in rivers, in savage beasts, in horned 
cattle, in armed men, in women, in princes. Kings are hke soldiers clad 
in mail, savage, crooked in their ways as serpents creep on you for evil. 
A king slays with his smile; he may pay honor, but he is dangerous; 
the elephant kills with a touch, the serpent with a caress.” 

“I have served the king,” continued the Brahman, “faithfully all these 
years, yet he has become my enemy, and will send me and my fellow 
Brahmans into exile. It has been said — 

“ ‘A man may give up something for the sake of his village; he may 
give up his village for the sake of his country; but he will give up the 
whole world to save his life.’ ” 

When the Brahman’s daughter heard that, she said: “This, Father, is 
all very true, but no respect will be paid to a servant that has been sent 
adrift by his master. 

“For it has been said — ‘A man may be of the highest character, or very 
commonplace. If he devotes himself to the service of the ruler, which- 
ever he may be, he will get nothing out of it. The king will take the first 
man he comes across, be he ignorant, or learned, honorable or dishonor- 



THE ENCHANTED PARROT 


303 

able, into his service; for kings, women, and creepers generally lay hold 
of what IS nearest to them.’ 

“Besides this — ‘A man may be learned, energetic, skilful, ambitiousy 
well versed in all his duties, but he is nothing without the prince’s favor. 
A man may be nobly born, possessed of ability, but if he does not pay 
court to the prince he may just as well spend his life in begging or per- 
petual penance. One who falls into the power of diseases, crocodiles or 
kings, and the stupid man who does not know how to get out of a 
difficulty, will never keep his position in life.’ 

“For It has been said — ‘Kings are as nothing to those wise and skilful 
persons who by their power bring lions, tigers, serpents and elephants 
into subjection. But men who are wise rely on the king’s favor, and 
so attain to eminence. The sandal grove only flourishes on Mount 
Malaya.’ 

“All the insignia of rank — parasols, elephants, horses — are given by 
the king to those whom he delights to honor. You are the object of the 
king’s affection and honor, therefore, my dear father, do not be down- 
cast. The chief minister’s duty is to clear up, from time to time, all doubts 
which beset the king’s mind. Therefore cheer up! I will find out for you 
what the fish meant by their laughter.” 

The Brahman at this advice felt somewhat comforted, and went and 
told the king what his daughter had said. The king was delighted, and 
immediately sent for the damsel. She came and made an elaborate 
obeisance to his majesty and said, “Sir! pray do not treat these Brahmans 
so ill; It is not their fault. Pray tell me what kind of a laugh was it that 
you heard from the fish.? Still, I am only a woman, and I wonder you 
are not ashamed to ask me to clear the matter up. For — 

“ ‘A king may be vile, yet he is even then not as another man, but bears 
a divine form.’ You, Vikramaditya, as your name tells us, are the bearei 
of divine power. For it has been said — ^‘From Indra comes might; from 
fire comes heat; from Yama wrath; from Kuvera riches; but a king is 
formed from Ka and Vishnu combined.’ 

“The person you ought to blame is yourself, for it is your business to 
remove doubts and difficulties. 

“Hear, then, what I have to tell you: 

“And if you can’t find out the answer send for me. At any rate you can- 
not possibly doubt the queen’s fidelity, seeing that she never goes out of 
doors,” 

Neither the king nor his wise men had the slightest idea what these 



INDIAN HUMOR 


304 

verses meant, and so the Brahman’s clever daughter went away, and left 
them in their bewilderment. 


2 

The king spent a sleepless night trying to puzzle out the meaning of 
the verses. For, as it has been said — 

“How should one sleep who is overwhelmed with debt, who has a dis- 
agreeable wife, who IS surrounded by enemies.?” 

So after a miserable night the king sent again for the wise maiden and 
said : “I cannot make out what the fish meant by their laughter.” 

“Your majesty had better not ask me,” she replied, “or perhaps you 
may repent of it as the merchant’s wife did when she was determined 
to find out where the cakes came from.” The king said: “And what 
was that?” She told him the following story:— 

“There is a town called Jayanti, and a merchant whose name was 
Sunmata lived in it. His wife was PadiminT. He was unlucky enough 
to lose all his money; m consequence his family would have nothing 
more to do, with him, for it is well known that wealth and friendship 
go together — 

“ ‘He who has money has friends; he who has money has relations; 
He who has money has wisdom; in fact, he is a man of importance.’ 

“It is said in the Mahabharata — ^‘There are five conditions in which 
a man though living may be regarded as dead : Poverty, disease, stupidity, 
exile, hopeless slavery.’ Also — ^‘A stranger, if he is a rich man, is a rela- 
tion; but a kinsman, if he be poor, is an outcast.’ 

“So this merchant used to take straw and wood into the market for 
sale. One day he could not find either, but he came across an image of 
Ganesa, made of wood. He thought to himself, ‘This will suit my pur- 
pose very well.’ 

“For it has been said — ‘There is nothing that a hungry man will not 
do for bread; and a man who is ruined has no conscience. Such will be 
guilty of any crime; what a respectable man would not dream of doing 
comes natural to them.” 

“So he made up his mind to break the image up for the sake of the 
wood, when Ganesa said to him: ‘If you will leave my image alone, I 
will give you every day five cakes made of sugar and butter; you can 
come here for them. Only you must not tell anyone how you come by 
them. If you let the secret out, I shall be clear of my promise.’ 

“He gladly consented, and Ganesa gave him five cakes which he took 



THE ENCHANTED PARROT 305 

home and gave to his vv^ife. With some of them she supplied the wants 
of her own house, and gave what was left over to a friend. The friend 
asked her one day where the cakes came from; Padminl could not answer 
the question, and the friend said, ‘If you don’t tell me, then there is an end 
of our friendship.’ For, as the saying is — 

“ ‘Giving, receiving, imparting secrets, asking questions, eating in com- 
pany ; these are the five proofs of friendship.’ 

“Padmini replied: ‘My husband knows, but he says it is a secret and 
will not tell me; even if I were to ask him a hundred times, I should 
get nothing out of him.’ The friend replied : ‘Then all I have to say is 
that you must make a very bad use of your youth and beauty, if you 
can’t find this out.’ 

“So Padmini asked her husband again, ‘Where do those cakes come 
from.f^’ ‘By the favor of destiny,’ he replied, ‘for it has been said, Fate, if 
It is on your side will accomplish your wishes. She will bring you what 
you want, even from a distant land, from the ends of the world, from 
the bottom of the sea. Once upon a time a mouse, making a hole for 
itself, fell into the jaws of a serpent. The serpent could not find any- 
thing to eat and was in the last stage of starvation, but refreshed by the 
lucky meal he went on his way rejoicing. So fate is the cause of a man’s 
rise or fall.’ 

“Padmini, when she found her husband would not tell her, refused 
to eat. He was put in a difi&culty and said: ‘If I tell you what you want 
to know disaster will follow, and you will be sorry for it.’ Padmini, how- 
ever, took no heed of warnings, but conunued to be obstinate, and at 
last her husband was obliged to tell her; for it is said, ‘When the gods 
want to ruin a man, they first take away his senses, so that he does not 
know evil from good.’ 

“Then, your majesty,” continued the Brahman’s daughter, “Sumati 
was prevailed on by his foolish wife to tell her the secret. For — 

“ ‘Even Rama failed to recognize the golden deer; Nahusha harnessed 
the Brahmans to his chariot; Arjuna carried off both cow and calf; Yud- 
histhira gambled away his wife and four brothers. So often even a good 
man, in a crisis, becomes the victim of folly.’ 

“Well! Padmini got the secret out of her husband, and went and told 
her friend, and the result was the friend sent her own husband to 
Ganesa, who gave him the cakes. Next day Padmini went with Sumati 
to Ganesa for the daily present, and he told them plainly that it was 
no use their coming any more to him, for the bargain had been broken 



INDIAN HUMOR 


306 

and the cakes had been given to someone else. So Padmini's husband 
gave her a good scolding, and they went home very sorry for what they 
had done. In the same way your majesty should not ask me to explain 
the meaning of the verses to you lest you repent of your knowledge. 
You had better make them out by yourself, without my help.” So saying, 
she got up and went home. 


3 

After another sleepless night the king not being able to find out the 
meaning of the verses, sent for the Brahman's daughter again, and said, 
‘Tray, tell me the meaning of the verses without any more delay.” 

She answered: “You must not importune the gods with entreaties, or 
repentance will follow, as was the case with the Brahman who fell in 
love with Sthagika. There is a town somewhere or other — ^it matters not 
where — whose king is Virabhya, and in it lived a Brahman called 
Reshava. One day the thought occurred to him: ‘Why should I not in- 
crease the wealth my father has left me.?' For it has been said — 

“ ‘The glory that you gam from your own virtues is the truest; next 
best is that which you gain from your father; but that which comes to 
you from a remoter source is worth nothing.’ 

“So he started with a view of getting more money, and in the course 
of his wandering passed through several towns, and places of sacred 
pilgrimage. At last he reached an out-of-the-way place where he saw 
an ascetic sitting cross-legged in meditation. 

“The Brahman came up to him and made a respectful obeisance. The 
ascetic ceased meditating for a moment, and seeing the Brahman said: 
‘To whom in this world should liberality be shown.? Who should be 
protected.? To whom should be granted what seems almost impossible 
of acquirement.?’ 

“The Brahman rose up from his humble posture and said, ‘Sir, to me, 
I am the pursuit of wealth.’ 

“The ascetic knew that his visitor was a Brahman and was quite 
shocked to hear him utter such an unworthy sentiment, for it has been 
said— 

“ ‘To see a distinguished person begging, in a state of poverty, asking 
for what he ought not to want, troubles the mind, though one is pre- 
pared to give. For a good man, though he may be himself in trouble, per- 
forms his duty to another. The sandal tree may be broken in a thousand 
pieces, but it still keeps its cooling power.’ 



THE ENCHANTED PARROT 307 

“The ascetic therefore gave his visitor a magic cloak, and said: When- 
ever you shake this, 500 gold pieces will fall from it; but you must not 
give it to anyone, or say where the money comes from.’ 

“The Brahman thanked the ascetic and departed with his cloak. Next 
morning he shook it, and immediately became the possessor of 500 gold 
pieces. He then proceeded on his travels and reached a town called 
Ratuavatl, where he fell violently in love with a young lady called 
Sthagika. She could not make out where all the money came from, and 
her mother to whom she confided her doubts said: Well, what is this 
Brahman’s business, for he seems to have plenty of money. How does he 
come by it?’ So she asked her admirer but he would not tell her. By 
dint of worrying, however, she got it out of him, and he let out all 
about the magic cloak. The consequence was that she waited till he was 
asleep and then stole the cloak, and as now he had lost all his money, 
the girl’s mother showed him the door. It has been said — 

“ ‘There is not much cleverness required to deceive one who has con- 
fidence in us, nor is much courage required to kill one who is asleep.’ 

“The Brahman, when he woke up, could not find his cloak, and went 
and laid a complaint before the magistrates, asserting with great 
vehemence that he had been robbed. The case was therefore tried, and 
the mother and daughter were charged with the theft. The mother said : 
‘This good-for-nothing fellow made love to my daughter. He has in- 
vented this story about his cloak — no sensible person could believe such 
nonsense. The whole thing is a fabrication from beginning to end. He 
came to my house, and my servants finding that he was a foreigner 
turned him out of doors, and we sent the cloak back to the holy man who 
gave it to him.’ This decided the case against the Brahman, and he lost 
both Sthagika and his cloak, all through letting out the secret, and this 
may be your majesty’s fate too, if you persist in your curiosity.” 

With these words the damsel got up and went home. 


4 

The king was still unable to fathom the meaning of the verses, so the 
next day he sent for the Brahman’s daughter. She said: “Your majesty! 
You should not be so importunate. A king should not be so pertinacious, 
whether the objects at which he aims be good or bad. Kings are as the 
body, and their subjects are only their limbs. Still if I obey your com- 
mands evil will befall you, as it befell the merchant who lost his home 
and all that he had.” “How was that?” said the king. The Brahman’s 



INDIAN HUMOR 


308 

daughter answered: “There is a place called Tripura, and in it lived 
Prince Vikrama. A merchant inhabited that city whose wife’s name 
was Sabhaga. She was a person of very light frivolous disposition, and 
do what he would he could not keep her within bounds. One day when 
she was wandering about town and getting into mischief, she came 
across a merchant who lived in the house of a Yaksha. She promptly 
fell in love with him, and as he very willingly responded to her advances, 
she made up her mind to run away with him. Before going she called 
a confidential maid-servant and said: ‘I am going away for a bit: directly 
after I have started do you set the house on fire, and my husband will 
be so taken up trying to put it out that he will not find out I am gone. 
I shall be back again before long.’ So no sooner had Sabhaga started, 
than her confidante set the place on fire, and her husband who had had 
his suspicions of the merchant, left keeping guard over Yaksha’s house 
and came home to try and put the fire out. Meanwhile her plan suc- 
ceeded perfectly, while the house was burnt down. 

“Thus the merchant lost house and everything, and that will be your 
majesty’s fate if you are so determined. If, however, you permit, I will 
tell you what you want to know myself.” 

So saying, she departed. 


5 

Next morning the king, who was still quite unable to find the answer, 
sent for the Brahman’s daughter and said: “You promised to tell me 
the meaning of those verses, for I cannot make out what they mean my- 
self.” The girl replied: “If you cannot find out the meaning, then listen 
to me. You have among your soothsayers and wise men, one called 
Pushpakara. He is their head. I beheve he is a very prudent discreet 
person. Tell me, why is he called Pushpakara.?” The king replied: “He 
is rightly called Pushpakara, because when he smiles it seems as if a 
shower of blossoms fell from his countenance. This was reported to be 
his characteristic, and so messengers were sent to fetch him to prove 
the truth of this report about him. When he came he neither laughed 
nor was there any shower of blossoms that fell from him, and for that 
reason they called him ‘The bond of secrecy.’ ” The Brahman’s daughter 
said: “And why did not Pushpakara laugh.? Do you know the reason?” 
“I haven’t the least idea,” replied the king. “Then you should make him 
tell you,” rejoined the Brahman’s daughter. “You have asked me what 
the fish meant by laughing. You ask him the same question. Perhaps 



THE ENCHANTED PARROT 


309 

he will answer it and tell you at the same time why he did not laugh 
himself.” 

So the king sent for Pushpakara, and as he was a wise man, and of 
some importance, he made him valuable presents and asked him why 
he did not laugh, and why the fish did. He replied: “Family scandals 
should not be talked about. Loss of money, sorrow of mind, difficulties 
at home, fraud, contempt — ^these are things which no wise man ever 
publishes. Still the command of the king, equal to that of Sudra, has 
surpassing power on the earth; the very name of a righteous, energetic 
king, surpasses the sun in magnificence. Therefore I will answer your 
majesty’s question. I found out that my wife was in love with someone 
else, and therefore grief stopped my laughter.” 

Then the king put his own difficulty before the wise man, and the 
latter gave no answer but struck the queen full in the face. The queen 
pretended to faint, and Pushpakara burst into a fit of laughter. The 
king was extremely angry and looking at the magician and the 
Brahman’s daughter, said, “What is there to laugh at? What do you 
mean by this?^” “Sir,” replied the magician, makmg a profound bow, 
“the queen did not faint the other night because she was struck by the 
young men in whose company she was. Now when I strike her she 
faints, or pretends to faint.” The king grew still more angry and said, 
“What is this? Do you know it of your own knowledge? The magician 
answered, “I saw it with my own eyes, and if your majesty is not con- 
vinced I will prove it to you.” The king went into the matter and found 
out everything. The magician said, “I suppose your majesty sees now 
why the Brahman’s daughter would not tell you the reason why the 
fish laughed (when they heard her say that she could not bear to look 
at the men).” The end of it was that Pushpakara and the Brahman’s 
daughter were sent home in a considerable state of trepidation, while 
the queen and her lovers were sewn up in a sack and thrown into the 
river. 

THE SON OF PROMISE 

Next day Prabhavatl’s friends addressed her and said: “Go where the 
sandalwood ointment is rubbed off by the sweat which falls. Go where 
the sounds of love are manifold; where the tinkle of the anklets is silent: 
where everything incites to love. Go where the universal law of love 
prevails. For — 

“ ‘Health, pleasure, peace, power, lordship: these are.nothing witfiput 



INDIAN HUMOR 


310 

love.’ It has been said— ‘The woman with long half-closing eyes, looking 
at their own forms resplendent with beauty in the curving mirrors, wait 
with longing for the lover’s approach. It is through their attracuveness 
that women gain the fruit of love.’ ” 

The parrot answered: Men are easily won over; they always speak 
fair. It IS the speaker of unpleasant though wholesome truths who can- 
not find a listener. But why say more? You and your friends are de- 
termined on evil deeds. 

(The parrot continued:) 

There is a town called Padmavati, where the rays of the sun shine 
on streets paved with jewels, as though the glow of the gems on the 
hood of the serpent king had come down to earth. When the sun 
scorches, when the long days are unbearable, when the wind is the 
breath of a furnace, when everything is dried up or perishes through 
the heat, sandalwood ointment, light clothing, refreshing drink — these 
things bringing coolness and delight in conquering the heat. The heat is 
but a slave to those who at midday anoint themselves v/ith the sandal, 
who bathe at evening, whose nights are tempered by the wind of the 
fans. 

There was a merchant in the town called Chandana, and he and his 
wife Prabhavati passed the hot season on the roof of their house. 

Even the sun supported in the heaven by his rays descends into the 
ocean when his day is done. For it has been said — “When fate is hostile 
it is useless to try and reach greatness!” 

Even the thousand rays cannot support the sun when his time for 
setting is come. Then the sun, sunk low in the heaven, his brilliancy 
departed, shines like a piece of coral; and presently the wide-eyed moon 
comes forward and takes up his place, rising over the Eastern moun- 
tain, accompanied by the myriads of stars, to kill the darkness. The 
moon standing with her head above the Eastern mountain in the be- 
ginning of the night shines forth— a torch to the world overwhelmed by 
the gloom. The moon rising from behind the Eastern mountain shines 
resplendent as she lies in the lap of her beloved night, or as she stands 
gleaming on Krishna’s head. 

Such were the days and nights when Chandana and his wife passed 
their time together. They had a son whose name was Rama, and to him 
his father taught the mysteries of the divine wisdom. 

His mother prayed to Chandra and said: “I have but one only son* 
I am therefore exceedingly pained with anxiety.” Chandra replied: “It 



tM£ ENCHANTED PARROT 311 

is best for you that you should have but one son. For a son that is clever, 
gentle, self-denying, discreet, the abode of the arts, the dwelling-place 
of virtue; one only son such as this is all sufficient. Besides, what is the 
good of more sons ? They may produce grief and care. It is better to be 
satisfied with one whose nature, whose disposition is noble.” 

But Prabhavati was not satisfied; so she took a woman called Dhurta- 
maya into her confidence, and said: “If you will train a son for me, 
able to resist all deceitful arts of women, I will give you lOO pieces of 
gold.” “I will give you a son,” replied Dhurtamaya, “and if he falls 
a victim to female seduction, I will forfeit to you twice as many pieces 
of money.” So the bargain was concluded and signed and the son was 
placed in the merchant’s house, where he became the object of all the 
wiles that women could devise. 

The arts of women are these: deceitful speech; craft; oaths; pretended 
emotions; pretended weeping; pretended laughter; meaningless expres- 
sions of pleasure and pain; asking questions with a deferential air; in- 
difference; equanimity, in prosperity or in adversity; making no differ- 
ence between good and evil; sidelong glances directed toward lovers — 
that is the list of the accomplishments practiced by the ladies of the 
town. 

So the son, handed over according to the agreement with Dhurta- 
maya, was sent by his father to the island of Suvarna to acquire wealth. 
In that island lived a lady called Kalavatl, and with her he spent a 
whole year. One day he said to Kalavatl: “Pray tell me! My youngest 
sister has often said that, although she was skilled in all the arts of 
attracting men, she never could succeed in getting anything out of her 
admirers. How is this to be accomplished.?” Kalavatl repeated this to 
her mother. “My dear,” replied the old lady, “it is quite clear that this 
admirer of yours is well up in the ways of women: you can’t catch 
him like this; perhaps flattery might succeed. When he is thinking of 
going back home, you say that you want to go with him, and that if 
he leaves you, you will drown yourself — and so on. I daresay he would 
give you anything you liked to ask for.” Kalavatl answered, “My dear 
mother, don’t put it in that way: I care nothing for his money without 
him, and it has been said — 

“‘Do not set your heart on riches gained by wickedness, or from 
an enemy whom you have humiliated.’ ” 

Her mother answered: “Not at all, my daughter; riches are the cause 
of death or life. It has been said — 



INDIAN HUMOR 


312 

“ ‘A man who acts with energy is sure to prosper; for energy in all 
matters is the road to fortune. Those who have not revealed secrets, who 
have done no evil, who have not slam without cause — they attain glory. 
Fate is the cause of justice and injustice: the cause of honor and of dis- 
honor. Fate makes a man both a giver and an asker.’ 

“You do as I have told you,” continued her mother. “I will manage 
all the rest.” So she listened to the advice her mother had given, and 
the end of it was, that the merchant’s son gave her all his money, and 
after she had got hold of several millions which had belonged to him, 
he was turned out of doors and sent adrift. 

So Kalavati’s admirer returned home, having lost both money and 
credit. His father, seeing him in this condition, was much distressed, 
and asked how it had all come about. He did not like to tell him, but 
told his spiritual father, who said: “My son, do not be cast down! Good 
luck and bad luck are equally the lot of man. Why should wise men 
think so much of money.? If it goes, grieve not after it: if it comes back, 
care not for it.” 

When his father heard all that had happened, he went to Dhurta- 
maya and said: “I have come to tell you that a great misfortune has 
happened. My son has fallen a victim to the treachery of a woman.” 
^‘Who has not been ruined by women.?” replied Dhurtamaya, “for it 
has been said, ‘A man who gains wealth becomes proud; he who falls 
into calamities loses his senses. Who can be the friend of a king.? Who 
has not come into the power of death.? Who does not respect a rich 
man? Who that falls into the net of the evil escapes without loss?’ 
Therefore if you will take a passage for me in a ship, I will go back 
with your son. It has been said, ‘Damage may be repaid with damage, 
injury with injury; if you pull out my feathers, I will pull out your 
hair.’ 

“I agreed that if your son were cheated by a woman I would be re- 
sponsible. For, ‘Though the earth, supported by the serpent king, the 
mighty mountain, the tortoise, the elephant, may move, that which has 
been determined by the wise and thoughtful is never moved, even in 
the course of ages.’ ” 

So Dhurtamaya and Chandana’s son went back to Survana. All the 
inhabitants including Kalavatl welcomed him, but he did not recover 
his money. The question was therefore, what could Dhurtamaya do? 
Well, as the money was not forthcoming, she put on the disguise of 
a Chandala and went about trying to find an opportunity of getting 



THE ENCHANTED PARROT 


313 

it back. In the course of her wanderings she came across Chandana’s 
son in the company of Kalavati. He saw her at the same time, and 
rushed to meet her, a line of action which had been already agreed 
upon between them. Kalavati followed him, and exclaimed, “Pray 
who is this?” He replied, “This is my mother; I have not seen her 
since I lost all my money!” Dhurtamaya seizing hold of his hand 
greeted him affectionately, and said: “My son! You went to this lady’s 
house! You fell a victim to her wiles, but after a time you escaped. You 
know all the money you took away belonged to me.” 

This she kept on asserting with oaths and imprecations, until Kalavati 
and her mother took the woman disguised as a Chandala into the house 
and said: “Madam! tell us, where do you come from? What is your 
name? In short, who are you.?” “I,” she replied, “am one of Sundara- 
sana’s minstrels, the king of Padmavati. This son of mine took away all 
my money, and you stole it from him.” Kalavati and her mother were 
thoroughly frightened and said, “Here is the money! Pray take it!” 
“No,” answered Dhurtamaya, “not unless the king of this country 
gives me permission.” 

Then they fell down at her feet and said: “We pray you accept it and 
have mercy on us!” So she took it, and having been treated with the 
greatest respect by Kalavati and her mother, went back with Rama 
rejoicing to their own country. 

DEVIKA AND HER FOOLISH HUSBAND 

There is a large village called Kukhada; m it dwelt a certain Jarasa, 
who was a great fool. His wife’s name was Devika; she was a flighty, 
ill-conducted person, and had a lover — a Brahman — whom she used to 
meet under a Vibhitaka tree, some way from the village. These meet- 
ings were a great subject of gossip in the place, and in the course of 
time her husband heard of them. So he made up his mind to see into 
the matter himself and went and climbed into the tree. What he saw 
from his hiding place fully justified all the gossip and he called out 
to his wife: “You good-for-nothing hussy! You have been up to this 
game for some time past.” She was put into somewhat of a difficulty 
and said: “I don’t know what you mean!” “I will let you know what 
I mean,” he answered, “if you will just wait till I come down.” So she 
promised to wait till he came down from the tree, and meanwhile sent 
her lover away. At last her husband reached the ground. “It is of no use 



INDIAN HUMOR 


314 

your making excuses,” he said, “you have been caught in the act.” 
“My dear husband she replied. “You must know that this tree has very 
peculiar properties: any one who climbs up into it can see at once 
whether his or her spouse has been faithful.” Her husband replied, 
“Well, you climb up and see if it is so,” which she did, and cried out, 
“You good-for-nothing wretch! You have been running after other 
women for days and days.” As this was perfectly true, the fool had 
nothing to say, and so he made up with his wife and they went home 
together. 


THE LADY AND THE TIGER 

In a village called Devalakhya lived a prince whose name was Raja- 
sinha. His wife was a person of irreproachable reputation, but very 
ill-tempered and quarrelsome. One day she had a violent altercation 
With her husband, and in consequence left home and started oiS with 
her two sons to her father’s house. She traveled through several towns 
and villages, and at last reached a large wood near Malaya, where she 
saw a tiger. The tiger saw her too, and came toward her lashing his 
tail with rage. She felt somewhat alarmed, but put on a bo)d front, and 
administering a smart slap to her sons she said: “What do you mean 
by quarreling over who is to have a tiger to eat.? Can’t you see one here 
close by.? Eat him first and then we will go and find another.” The 
tiger heard all this, and thinking to himself, “Surely this lady must 
be indeed a formidable person,” took to his heels and ran away in terror. 

Presently a jackal met him. He burst into a fit of laughter and said: 
“Hullo! Here is a tiger running away from something in a fright.” 
“Friend jackal,” replied the tiger, “the sooner you go off to some far 
distant country the better, for there is a most terrible person hereabouts 
— a regular tiger-eater! — such as one only hears of in fables. She has 
almost been the death of me; as soon as I saw her, I ran away as fast 
as I could.” “Well, I am surprised,” said the jackal. “Do you mean that 
you are afraid of what after all is only a piece of human flesh.?” “I was 
close to her,” answered the tiger, “and what she did and said was 
enough to frighten any one,” The jackal answered: “Well, I think I 
shall go by myself and see if I can find this tiger-eating lady. You had 
perhaps better not come, as she might recognize you again.” “Whether 
you go with me or without me,” replied the tiger, “it will make no 
difference; you arc certain to be destroyed,” 



THE ENCHANTED PARROT 315 

“Well, then,” said the jackal, “let me mount on your back, and we will 
go together.” So the jackal was tied on the tiger’s back and off they 
started, and very soon found the tiger-eater with her two sons. She felt 
a little nervous at first, seeing the tiger had come back accompanied 
by a jackal, but reflecting a minute she cried out: “You rascally jackal! 
Once upon a time you used to bring me three tigers at once; what do 
you mean by coming here with only one*^” The tiger heard this, and 
was so frightened that he turned and fled with the jackal on his back. 

The tiger continued his headlong course, while the jackal, tied on 
the tiger’s back, suffered the greatest discomfort and inconvenience. 
The question for him was how to get out of this unfortunate position, 
for the tiger in deadly fear, tore through rivers, over mountains, through 
forests. Suddenly he burst into a loud fit of laughter. The tiger ex- 
claimed: “Well! I can’t see what there is to laugh at!” “A great deal, I 
think,” replied the jackal. “It just occurred to me how cleverly we have 
cheated that scoundrelly tiger-eater. Here I am safe and sound with 
your help, and she has been left behind, no one knows where. That was 
why I laughed. So, my dear tiger, do let me get down and see where 
we are.” The tiger felt flattered and willingly loosed the jackal off his 
back. No sooner had he done so than he suddenly fell down dead, and 
the jackal went off rejoicing. For it has been said — 

“Wisdom is better than pomp and display, for by it men gain place, 
riches, and honor; but he who is devoid of wisdom falls into dire mis- 
fortune. The strength of the ignorant is used to carry out the business 
of another, even as the surpassing might of an elephant is made subject 
to man.” 


THE CONCLUDING STORY 

At the conclusion of these stories, Madana returned from his expedi- 
tion, and was received by Prabhavatl with every demonstration of 
affection. 

The parrot said, very slowly and solemnly — 

“Affection in woman means nothing; pride in woman means nothing. 
All the time that you have been absent, she has been my friend and de- 
voted to me.” 

Madana heard what the parrot said, but he did not pay much atten- 
tion to it. The parrot smiled and continued: “He who hears good advice 
and follows it is blessed both in this world and in the next.” Madana 



INDIAN HUMOR 


316 

therefore was induced to ask the parrot what he meant. Prabhavatl at 
this felt a little bit anxious as to what might come out, for it has been 
said — “The good are always bold, sustained by consciousness of the 
good. The wicked are always afraid, for their evil conscience makes 
cowards of them.” 

So Prabhavatl said to her husband, “Sir! your place has been well 
supplied, for in this house dwells a parrot, who seems to have come 
direct from the abode of the gods, and who speaks words of wisdom. 
He has been even as a husband and son to me.” 

The parrot at these words felt a little ashamed of himself, for it did 
not seem to him that he had merited such compliments. So Madana 
turned to Prabhavatl and said: “Pray, what were the words of wisdom 
with which the parrot consoled you.?” 

She replied: “My lord, a speaker of truth may be found, but it is not 
so easy to find a listener, for it has been said — ^‘Men who say what is 
pleasant are always welcome, but those who tell unpalatable truths, will 
not find an audience.’ 

“Now, my husband, hear me. After your departure, for a time I kept 
you in remembrance, though there was separation between us. Then 
evil friends came by, and tried to lead me astray. This bird prevented 
my following after them, and held me back seventy nights, by means 
of the stories which he told me. So I was prevented from following my 
desires, and my designs of evil were not fulfilled. From today — ^whether 
in life or in death— you, my husband, shall be my chief object.” 

At the conclusion of this harangue, Madana turned to the parrot 
and asked what in the world it all meant. 

The parrot answered: “Speech must not be uttered hastily by the 
wise; those who know what is right and proper must act accordingly. 
Sir, I say nothing of the foolish, drunkards, women, persons afflicted 
with disease, those in love, the weak, the wrathful. The mad, the care- 
less, the timid, the starving, such as these have but few virtues. There 
are ten who know not the way of righteousness— the mad, the careless, 
the drunkard, the feeble, the wrathful, the glutton, the hasty, the cow- 
ard, the covetous, the lustful. 

“Pray grant Prabhavatl pardon for her shortcomings. Indeed they 
were not her fault, but the fault of her evil companions. For it is said— 

“ ‘The virtuous fall into evil ways through contact with the depraved. 
Even Bhishma stole a cow under the influence of Duryodhana. The 



THE ENCHANTED PARROT 


317 

king’s daughter was led astray by a Vidyadhara; but, though her fault 
was plain, she was forgiven by her father.’ ” 

The^ parrot then told Madana the following story — 

“There is a mountain called Malaya, and on the top of it is Manohara, 
a city of the Gandharvas. In it lived a certain Madana, a Gandharva, 
and he had a wife whose name was Ratnavali. Their daughter was 
Madanamanjari. She was extremely beautiful and fascinating, and 
everyone who saw her absolutely lost his senses, whether god or hero. 
It was quite impossible to find a husband for her sufficiently good- 
looking. It so happened one day that a certain Narada came by; when 
he saw her he was so fascinated by her charms that he went off his 
head. After a time, however, Narada, who was a Rishi, came to him- 
self. And he solemnly cursed her, in these words: ‘Since the fire of 
passion has been kindled in me at the sight of your beauty, you shall 
be the victim of deceit.’ Then her father, hearing the curse, bowed to 
the ground before the Rishi, and said: ‘Sir, show compassion on my 
daughter, and grant her forgiveness!’ Narada replied: ‘She shall indeed 
be deceived, but she shall not suffer loss, nor shall she fail in gaining 
a husband. On the top of Mount Meru is a city called Vipula, and in it 
dwells the Gandharva, Kanaprabha. He shall be your daughter’s hus- 
band.’ With these words Narada departed, and according to his promise 
Madanamanjari was given in marriage to the Gandharva. 

Soon after this, her husband left her, and went on a journey to 
Kailasa. She was inconsolable at his departure, and lay full length on 
a stone slab in the courtyard of her home. Here she was seen by a 
Vidyadhara, who made advances of love to her. She declined them with- 
out hesitation, but eventually, putting on the form of her husband, he 
accomphshed his object. Before long her husband returned, but it ap- 
peared to him that she was not particularly glad to see him. He thought 
that there must be some counter-attraction, and eventually he worked 
himself up to such a state of jealousy that he contemplated putting an 
end to his wife’s existence. So Madanamanjari, seeing her end in view, 
went to the shrine of the goddess Durga, and made loud lamentation. 
The goddess heard her complaints and said to her husband, “Noble 
Gandharva! Your wife is guiltless; she was deceived by a Vidyadhara, 
who put on your form. Since she was ignorant of the real state of things, 
how could she be to blame? Besides, the cause of all this is the curse 
pronounced on her by the Rishi Narada. Now the curse is worked out, 
and since she is free from guilt you must take her back.’ Hearing the 



INDIAN HUMOR 


318 

words of the goddess, Kanaprabha took his wife home, and they lived 
happily together. 

“So, Madana,” continued the parrot, “if you have any confidence in 
my words, receive your wife kindly, for there is no evil in her.'* 

Then Madana, obedient to the parrot’s wish, took Prabhavatl home, 
and his father Haridatta, rejoicing at his son’s return, made a great feast. 
While the festival was proceeding, a ram of flowers fell from heaven, 
and the parrot — ^the adviser and confidant of Prabhavatl — freed from 
the curse which had compelled him to wear a parrot’s form, ascended 
to the abode of the gods, and Madana and Prabhavatl passed the re- 
mainder of their lives in peace and happiness. 



BUDDHISM 




The Dhammapada 


INTRODUCTION 

The Dhammapada, or “Words of the Doctrine,” is a book of Buddhist 
aphorisms in 423 verses, but to say this is to mislead. It is not a collection 
of wise sayings m haphazard order, but a continuous, original, rare work 
of literature, unified in rhythm, style, themes and treatment, and infused 
with a high moral passion. The words are ascribed to Buddha himself; 
while scholars disagree on the subject, as scholars must, the layman stands 
on the sure ground that the thoughts represent correctly and truly 
Buddha’s own teachings. The author of the verses is unknown. Whoever 
wrote this book must have caught the fire of a valiant call to the religious 
life and felt the spiritual joy that we associate with Thomas \ Kempis. 
The obvious common-sense conclusion is that if Buddha himself had 
not spoken with this valiant voice, he could not have communicated it 
to his disciple, the unknown author. What we must be thankful for is 
that the voice of Buddha can still be distinctly heard through his work, 
which must be read continuously from the beginmng to the end. That 
the sayings are often sharp and witty like aphorisms is the incidental 
literary quality of this work; behind them all, we hear the voice of 
someone who had something very important to say. It is a convincing 
voice; few works share this genuine moral passion. 

It is, in short, a clear call to rouse oneself from the life of sloth, indo- 
lence and thoughtlessness of the common man, to achieve that greatest 
of all conquests, the conquest of self, to escape from the snares of evil 
passions, lust, hatred and anger, and to attain that highest human free- 
dom, the moral freedom of one who has overcome himself. But this 
call for moral effort and struggle is coupled with a sense of urgency of 
escape and gives us the sensation of a race, as with St. Paul: 


3 ^^ 



BUDDHISM 


322 

Earnest among the thoughtless, awake among the sleepers, the wise man 
advances like a racer, leaving behind the hack. 

Again : 

He whose conquests cannot be conquered again, into whose conquest no 
one in this world enters, by what track can you lead him, the Awakened, 
the Omniscient, the trackless? 

He whom no desire with its snares and poisons can lead astray, by what 
track can you lead him, the Awakened, the Omniscient, the trackless? 

And why ? Because all of us know that the body is transient, and all 
of us are seeking salvation : 

Long is the night to him who is awake; long is the mile to him who is 
tired; long is life to the foolish who do not know the true law. 

Because: 

As a cow-herd with his staff drives his cows into the stable, so do Age and 
Death drive the life of men. 

But, because we are subject to the temptations of this illusory world, 
the foolish keep on living their futile, indolent, weak and licentious life, 
which is a life in vain, a life not worth having: 

And he who lives a hundred years, ignorant and unrestrained, a life of one 
day is better if a man is wise and reflecting. 

And he who lives a hundred years, idle and weak, a life of one day is 
better if a man has attained firm strength. . . . 

And he who lives a hundred years, not seeing the highest law, a life of one 
day is better if a man sees the highest law. 

It is entirely possible for one to grow **old in vain”: 

A man is not an elder because his head is gray; his age may be npe, but he 
IS called ‘‘Old-in-Vain.” 

For there is such a thing as moral growth: 

A man who has learnt little, grows old like an ox; his flesh grows, but his 
knowledge does not grow. 

Hence we hear the clarion call to rouse oneself from that life of moral 
sloth and indolence and futile mischief: 

Rouse thyself! Do not be idle^ Follow the law of virtue! 

The virtuous rest in bliss in this life and in the next. 

Come, look at this world, glittering like a royal chariot; 

The foolish are immersed in it, but the wise do not touch it. 

The first and last step is the conquest of self: 

. Rouse thyself by thyself, examine thyself by thyself; thus self-protected and 
attentive wilt thou live happily, O Bikkshu! 

For self is the lord of seif, self is the refuge of self; therefore curb thyself 
as the merchant curbs a noble horse* 



THE DHAMMAPADA 323 

Mules are good, if tamed, and the noble Sindhu horses, and elephants 
with large tusks; but he who tames himself is better still. 

For with these animals does no man reach the untrodden country (Nirv- 
ana), where a tamed man goes on a tamed animal! — on his well-tamed self. 

This essential thought recurs again and again, like a theme in a 
symphony : 

If one man conquer in battle a thousand times a thousand men, and if 
another conquer himself, he is the greatest of conquerors. 

The process of salvation must come from within : 

By one’s self the evil is done, by one’s self one suffers; by one’s self evil 
is left undone, by one’s self one is purified. The pure and the impure stand 
and fall by themselves, no one can purify another. 

Hence Buddha’s call for constant vigilance and individual effort: 

You yourself must make an effort. The Tathagatas (Buddhas) arc only 
preachers. The thoughtful who enter the way are freed from the bondage 
of Mara . . . 

And I like something which is so simple, so direct; 

If anything is to be done, let a man do it, let him attack it vigorously! A 
careless pilgrim only scatters the dust of his passion more widely. 

But one has first to rid oneself of the illusions of the false life and 
attain a moral height, from which he can see a different world; 

When the learned man drives away vanity by earnestness, he, the wise, 
climbing the terraced heights of wisdom, looks down upon the fools: free 
from sorrow he looks upon the sorrowing crowd, as one that stands on a 
mountain looks down upon them that stand upon the plain. 

Curiously, salvation comes from knowledge ; 

The channels run everywhere, the creeper of passion stands sprouting; if 
you see the creeper springing up, cut its root by means of \nowledge. 

Or again; 

Knowing that this body is fragile like a jar, and making his thought firm 
like a fortress, one should attack Mara, the tempter, with the weapon of knowl- 
edge, one should watch him when conquered, and should never rest. 

Because the greatest of all evils is the evil of ignorance: 

But there is a taint worse than all taints — ignorance is the greatest taint. O 
mendicants, throw off that taint, and become taintless! 

The evil life is really the thoughtless life: 

Earnestness is the path of immortality (Nirvana), thoughtlessness the path 
of death. Those who are in earnest do not die, those who are thoughtless are 
as if dead already. 

For after all, evil and pain are identical; it is those unable to see pain 
as the natural result of doing evil that continue to do evil: 



BUDDHISM 


324 

If a man commits a sin, let him not do it again; let him not delight in sin: 
the accumulation of evil is painful. 

And good and happiness are identical: 

If a man does what is good, let him do it again, let him delight in it: the 
accumulation of good is delightful. 

For the virtuous man alone is happy, for he has that happiness which 
cannot be taken away from him: 

The virtuous man is happy in this world, and he is happy in the next; he 
is happy in both. He is happy when he thinks of the good he has done; he 
is still more happy when going on the good path. 

Again: 

We live happily indeed, not hating those who hate us! among men who 
hate us we dwell free from hatred! 

We live happily indeed, free from greed among the greedy ’ among men 
who are greedy let us dwell free from greed * 

We live happily indeed, though we call nothing our own! We shall be 
like the bright gods, feeding on happiness! 

For the power of good pervades: 

The scent of flowers does not travel against the wind, nor that of sandal- 
wood, or of Tagara and Mallika flowers; but the odor of good people travels 
even against the wind; a good man pervades every place. 

Again: 

Good people are seen from afar, like the snowy mountains; bad people are 
not seen, like arrows shot by night. 

The good man, who has achieved freedom from the senses, is even 
worthy of the envy of the gods : 

The gods even envy him whose senses, like horses well broken in by the 
driver, have been subdued, who is free from pride, and free from appetites; 
such a one who does his duty is tolerant like the earth, like the threshold; he 
is like a lake without mud; no new births are in store for him. 

And there we reach the spiritual joy of the calm, saintly life, strong 
above the trammels of passion and worldly cares : 

The gift of the law exceeds all gifts; the sweetness of the law exceeds all 
sweetness; the delight in the law exceeds all delights; the extinction of thirst 
overcomes all pain. 

Again, we hear the note of inner peace: 

A Bikkshu who has entered his empty house, and whose mind is tranquil, 
feels more than a human delight when he sees the law clearly. 

That is why one must allow no thoughts of hatred, anger and lust to 
enter the mind, and why one must not requite evil with evil, but must 
overcome evil with good; 



THE DHAMMAPADA 


325 

He who holds back rising anger like a rolling chariot, him I call a real 
driver; other people are but holding the reins. 

Let a man overcome anger by love, let him overcome evil by good; let him 
overcome the greedy by liberality, the liar by truths 

For the man who is tainted with hatred and anger, or who injures 
others but injures himself: 

If a man offend a harmless, pure, and innocent person, the evil falls back 
upon that fool, like light dust thrown up against the wind 

What the world calls victory is not victory, because it breeds more 
hatred: 

Victory breeds hatred, for the conquered is unhappy. He who has given 
up both victory and defeat, he, the contented, is happy. 

For what the saint prizes and values is moral victory : 

Silendy I endured abuse as the elephant in battle endures the arrow sent 
from the bow: for the world is ill-natured. 

They lead a tamed elephant to battle, the king mounts a tamed elephant; 
the tamed is the best among men, he who silently endures abuse. 

Here we reach the moral heights of the Sermon on the Mount. And 
having disabused our minds of the common passions of men, we arrive 
at a new set of moral values, the values of the inner life: 

A man is not learned because he talks much; he who is patient, free from 
hatred and fear, he is called learned. 

A man is not an elect (Anya) because he injures living creatures; because 
he has pity on all living creatures, therefore is a man called Anya. 

The ordinary conventional values of society do not hold any more : 

A man does not become a Brahmana by his plaited hair, by his family, or by 
binh; in whom there is truth and righteousness, he is blessed, he is a Brahmana. 

I do not call a man a Brahmana because of his origin or of his mother. 
He IS indeed arrogant, and he is wealthy; but the poor who is free from 
attachments, him I call indeed a Brahmana. 

The externals of the religious practice are no substitutes for the inner 
spiritual life, for priests also go to hell: 

Many men whose shoulders are covered with the yellow gown are ill- 
conditioned and unrestrained; such evil-doers by their evil deeds go to hell. 

Better it would be to swallow a heated iron ball, like flaring fire, than that 
a bad, imrestrained fellow should live on the charity of the land. 

Such are the main themes that occur again and again in the Dhamma- 
pada. While such doctrines afford no more glimpse into Buddhist philoso- 
phy than the Sermon on the Mount affords any glimpse of Christian 
theology, they are the central ethical teachings of Buddhism. Here we 



BUDDHISM 


326 

do not run into abstruse metaphysics (see the section, The Surangama 
Sutra), but see on the other hand, the clarity, the simplicity and great 
humanity of Buddha’s teachings, a humanity that is easy to appreciate: 

If the occasion rises, friends are pleasant; enjoyment is pleasant, whatever 
be the cause; a good work is pleasant in the hour of death; the giving up of 
grief is pleasant. 

Pleasant in the world is the state of a mother; pleasant the state of a father; 
pleasant the state of a Samana (ascetic); pleasant the state of a Brahmana. 

Pleasant is virtue lasting to old age; pleasant is a faith firmly rooted; 
pleasant is attainment of intelligence; pleasant is avoiding of sin. 

The following translation was made by Max Muller in 1870. There 
have been a number of succeeding efforts to re-translate the Dhamma^ 
pada, by F. L. Woodward (1921), and by Wagiswara and Saunders 
(1920) in prose, and by A. L. Edmunds in verse {Hymns of the Faith, 
1902), for this unique work has attracted many scholars. The late Irving 
Babbitt’s translation is based on the version by Max Muller."^ Some trans- 
lators may have improved upon Max Muller in literalness, but I doubt 
very much in aptness of expression or in producing the smooth-flowing 
rhythm, for as must be evident to the reader, the great translator was 
concerned not only with the words, as scholars are, but had a pleasing 
acquaintance with the sense of words. The Chinese version of the 
Dhammapada has been rendered into English by Samuel Beal {Texts 
from the Buddhist Canon \nowit as Dhammapada, and Boston, 

1878). Its closeness to Confucian and Taoist teachings (e.g., advice on 
good friends, distinction between the wise and the fools, emphasis on 
self-examination, freedom from fear, moral strength and inner repose) 
explains why Buddhism is so readily acceptable to the Chinese people. 

The Dhammapada is a great spiritual testimony, one of the very few 
religious masterpieces in the world, combining genuineness of spiritual 
passion with a happy gift of literary expression. It is closer to the modern 
man than the Bhagavad-Gita; the latter, with all its lofty moral concep- 
tions, is bound to strike deeper a Hindu than a non-Hindu mind, while 
the Dhammapada speaks directly on common ethical terms, such as many 
a self-made man would like to present to his licentious-living son, but 
usually has not the courage to because he is his own father. The 
Dhammapada therefore belongs to the world and to all time. 

'Published posthumously, Oxford, 1936. It contains a valuable essay by Babbitt on ‘Buddha 
and the Occident. What interests Babbitt in Buddhism is the emphasis on the principle 
of the “inner check** and self-mastery. 



The Dhammapada 

Translated by F. Max Muller 


CHAPTER I: THE TWIN-VERSES 

All that we are is the result of what we have thought: it is founded on 
our thoughts, it is made up of our thoughts. If a man speaks or acts with 
an evil thought, pain follows him, as the wheel follows the foot of the 
ox that draws the carriage. 

All that we are is the result of what we have thought: it is founded on 
our thoughts, it is made up of our thoughts. If a man speaks or acts with 
a pure thought, happiness follows him, like a shadow that never leaves 
him. 

“He abused me, he beat me, he defeated me, he robbed me”--in those 
who harbor such thoughts hatred will never cease. 

“He abused me, he beat me, he defeated me, he robbed me” — in those 
who do not harbor such thoughts hatred will cease. 

For hatred does not cease by hatred at any time: hatred ceases by love — 
this IS an old rule. 

The world does not know that we must all come to an end here; but 
those who know it, their quarrels cease at once. 

He who lives looking for pleasures only, his senses uncontrolled, im- 
moderate in his food, idle, and weak, Mara (the tempter) will certainly 
overthrow him, as the wind throws down a weak tree. 

He who lives without looking for pleasures, his senses well controlled, 
moderate in his food, faithful and strong, him Mara will certainly not 
overthrow, any more than the wind throws down a rocky mountain. 

He who wishes to put on the yellow dress without having cleansed 
himself from sin, who disregards also temperance and truth, is unworthy 
of the yellow dress, 

327 



BUDDHISM 


328 

But he who has cleansed himself from sin, is well grounded in all 
virtues, and endowed also with temperance and truth: he is indeed 
worthy of the yellow dress. 

They who imagine truth in untruth, and see untruth in truth, never 
arrive at truth, but follow vain desires. 

They who know truth in truth, and untruth in untruth, arrive at 
truth, and follow true desires. 

As rain breaks through an ilkhatched house, passion will break 
through an unreflecting mind. 

As rain does not break through a well-thatched house, passion will 
not break through a well-reflecting mind. 

The evil-doer mourns in this world, and he mourns in the next; he 
mourns in both. He mourns and suffers when he sees the evil result of 
his own work. 

The virtuous man delights in this world, and he delights in the next; 
he delights in both. He delights and rejoices, when he sees the purity of 
his own work. 

The evil-doer suffers in this world, and he suffers in the next; he 
suffers in both. He suffers when he thinks of the evil he has done; he 
suffers more when going on the evil path. 

The virtuous man is happy in this world, and he is happy in the next; 
he is happy in both. He is happy when he thinks of the good he has 
done; he is still more happy when going on the good path. 

The thoughtless man, even if he can recite a large portion of the law, 
but is not a doer of it, has no share in the priesthood, but is like a cow- 
herd counting the cows of others. 

The follower of the law, even if he can recite only a small portion of 
the law, but, having forsaken passion and hatred and foohshness, 
possesses true knowledge and serenity of mind, he, caring for nothing 
in this world or that to come, has indeed a share in the priesthood. 

CHAPTER II: ON EARNESTNESS 

Earnestness is the path of immortality (Nirvana), thoughtlessness the 
path of death. Those who arc in earnest do not die, those who are 
thoughtless are as if dead already. 

Having understood this clearly, those who are advanced in earnestness 
delight in earnestness, and rejoice in the knowledge of the elect. 



THE DHAMMAPADA 


329 

These wise people, meditative, steady, always possessed of strong 
powers^ attain to Nirvana, the highest happiness. 

If an earnest person has roused himself, if he is not forgetful, if his 
deeds are pure, if he acts with consideration, if he restrains himself, 
and lives according to law — ^then his glory will increase. 

By rousing himself, by earnestness, by restraint and control, the wise 
man may make for himself an island which no flood can overwhelm. 

Fools follow after vanity. The wise man keeps earnestness as his best 
jewel. 1 . 

Follow not after vanity, nor after the enjoyment of love and lust! He 
who is earnest and meditative, obtains ample joy. 

When the learned man drives away vanity by earnestness, he, the 
wise, climbing the terraced heights of wisdom, looks down upon the 
fools : free from sorrow he looks upon the sorrowing crowd, as one that 
stands on a mountain looks down upon them that stand upon the plain. 

Earnest among the thoughtless, awake among the sleepers, the wise 
man advances like a racer, leaving behind the hack. 

By earnestness did Maghavan (Indra) rise to the lordship of the 
gods. People praise earnestness; thoughtlessness is always blamed. 

A Bhikshu (mendicant) who delights in earnestness, who looks with 
fear on thoughtlessness, moves about like fire, burning all his fetters, 
small or large. 

A Bhikshu (mendicant) who delights in reflection, who looks with 
fear on thoughtlessness, cannot fall away from his perfect state—he is 
close upon Nirvana. 


CHAPTER III: THOUGHT 

As A FLETCHER makes straight his arrow, a wise man makes straight his 
trembling and unsteady thought, which is difficult to guard, difficult to 
hold back. 

As a fish taken from his watery home and thrown on the dry ground, 
our thought trembles all over in order to escape the dominion of Mara, 
the tempter. 

It is good to tame the mind, which is difficult to hold in and flighty, 
rushing wherever it listeth; a tamed mind brings happiness. 

Let the wise man guard his thoughts, for they are difficult to perceive, 
very artful, and they rush wherever they list: thoughts well guarded 
bring happiness. 

Those who bridle their mind which travels far, moves about alone, 



BUDDHISM 


330 

is without a body, and hides in the chamber of the heart, will be free 
from the bonds of Mara, the tempter. 

. If a man’s faith is unsteady, if he does not know the true law, if his 
peace of mind is troubled, his knowledge will never be perfect. 

If a man’s thoughts are not dissipated, if his mind is not perplexed, if 
he has ceased to think of good or evil, then there is no fear for him while 
he is watchful. 

Knowing that this body is fragile like a jar, and making his thought 
firm like a fortress, one should attack Mara, the tempter, with the 
weapon of knowledge, one should watch him when conquered, and 
should never rest. 

Before long, alasl this body will lie on the earth, despised, without 
understanding, like a useless log. 

Whatever a hater may do to a hater, or an enemy to an enemy, a 
wrongly-directed mind will do him greater mischief. 

Not a mother, not a father, will do so much, nor any other relatives; 
a well-directed mind will do us greater service. 

CHAPTER IV: FLOWERS 

Who shall overcome this earth, and the world of Yama, the lord of the 
departed, and the world of the gods? Who shall find out the plainly 
shown path of virtue, as a clever man finds the right flower ? 

The disciple will overcome the earth, and the world of Yama, and 
the world of the gods. The disciple will find out the plainly shown path 
of virtue, as a clever man finds the right flower. 

He who knows that this body is like froth, and has learnt that it is as 
unsubstantial as a mirage, will break the flower-pointed arrow of Mara, 
and never see the king of death. 

Death carries off a man who is gathering flowers, and whose mind is 
distracted, as a flood carries off a sleeping village. 

Death subdues a man who is gathering flowers, and whose mind is 
distracted, before he is satiated in his pleasures. 

As the bee collects nectar and departs without injuring the flower, or 
its color or scent, so let a sage dwell in his village. 

Not the perversities of others, not their sins of commission or omission, 
but his own misdeeds and negligences should a sage take notice of. 

Like a beautiful flower, full of color, but without scent, are the fine 
but fruitless words of him who does not act accordingly. 



THE DHAMMAPADA 331 

But, like a beautiful flower, full of color and full of scent, are the fine 
and fruitful words of him who acts accordingly. 

As many kinds of wreaths can be made from a heap of flowers, so 
many good things may be achieved by a mortal when once he is born. 

The scent of flowers does not travel against the wind, nor that of 
sandal-wood, or of Tagara and Mallika flowers; but the odor of good 
people travels even against the wind; a good man pervades every place. 

Sandal- wood or Tagara, a lotus-flower, or a VassikI, among these sorts 
of perfumes, the perfume of virtue is unsurpassed. 

Mean is the scent that comes from Tagara and sandal-wood; the 
perfume of those who possess virtue rises up to the gods as the highest. 

Of the people who possess these virtues, who live without thoughtless- 
ness, and who are emancipated through true knowledge, Mara, the 
tempter, never finds the way. 

As on a heap of rubbish cast upon the highway the lily will grow full 
of sweet perfume and delight, thus among those who are mere rubbish 
the disciple of the truly enlightened Buddha shines forth by his knowl- 
edge above the blinded worldling. 

CHAPTER V: THE FOOL 

Long is the night to him who is awake; long is a mile to him who is 
tired; long is life to the foolish who do not know the true law. 

If a traveller does not meet with one who is his better, or his equal, 
let him firmly keep to his solitary journey; there is no companionship 
with a fool. 

“These sons belong to me, and this wealth belongs to me,” with such 
thoughts a fool is tormented. He himself does not belong to himself; how 
much less sons and wealth ? 

The fool who knows his foolishness, is wise at least so far. But a fool 
who thinks himself wise, he is called a fool indeed. 

If a fool be associated with a wise man even all his life, he will perceive 
the truth as little as a spoon perceives the taste of soup. 

If an intelligent man be associated for one minute only with a wise 
man, he will soon perceive the truth, as the tongue perceives the tast^ 
of soup. 

Fools of poor understanding have themselves for their greatest enemies, 
for they do evil deeds which bear bitter fruits, 



BUDDHISM 


332 

That deed is not well done of which a man must repent, and the 
reward of which he receives crying and with a tearful face. 

No, that deed is well done of which a man does not repent, and the 
reward of which he receives gladly and cheerfully. 

As long as the evil deed done does not bear fruit, the fool thinks it is 
like honey; but when it ripens, then the fool suffers grief. 

Let a fool month after month eat his food (like an ascetic) with the 
tip of a blade of Kusa-grass, yet is he not worth the sixteenth particle of 
those who have well weighed the law. 

An evil deed, like newly-drawn milk, does not turn suddenly; 
smouldering, like fire covered by ashes, it follows the fool. 

And when the evil deed, after it has become known, turns to sorrow 
for the fool, then it destroys his bright lot, nay, it cleaves his head. 

Let the fool wish for a false reputation, for precedence among the 
Bhikshus, for lordship in the convents, for worship among other people! 

“May both the layman and he who has left the world think that this 
is done by me; may they be subject to me in everything which is to be 
done or is not to be doi\e,” thus is the mind of the fool, and his desire 
and pride increase. 

“One is the road that leads to wealth, another the road that leads to 
Nirvana” — if the Bhikshu, the disciple of Buddha, has learnt this, he will 
not yearn for honor, he will strive after separation from the world. 

CHAPTER VI: THE WISE MAN 

If you see a man who shows you what is to be avoided, who administers 
reproofs, and is intelligent, follow that wise man as you would one who 
tells of hidden treasures; it will be better, not worse, for him who follows 
him. 

Let him admonish, let him teach, let him forbid what is improper! — 
he will be beloved of the good, by the bad he will be hated. 

Do not have evil-doers for friends, do not have low people for friends: 
have virtuous people for friends, have for friends the best of men. 

He who drinks in the law lives happily with a serene mind: the sage 
rejoices always in the law, as preached by the elect. 

Well-makers lead the water wherever they like; fletchers bend the 
arrow; carpenters bend a log of wood; wise people fashion themselves. 

As a solid rock is not shaken by the wind, wise people falter not amidst 
blame and praise, 



THE DHAMMAPADA 333 

Wise people, after they have listened to the laws, become serene, like 
a deep, smooth, and still lake. 

Good men indeed walk warily under all circumstances; good men 
speak not out of a desire for sensual gratification; whether touched by 
happiness or sorrow wise people never appear elated or depressed. 

If, whether for his own sake, or for the sake of others, a man wishes 
neither for a son, nor for wealth, nor for lordship, and if he does not 
wish for his own success by unfair means, then he is good, wise, and 
virtuous. 

Few are there among men who arrive at the other shore (become 
Arhats) ; the other people here run up and down the shore. 

But those who, when the law has been well preached to them, follow 
the law, will pass over the dominion of death, however difficult to cross. 

A wise man should leave the dark state of ordinary life, and follow 
the bright state of the Bhikshu. After going from his home to a homeless 
state, he should in his retirement look for enjoyment where enjoyment 
seemed difficult. Leaving all pleasures behind, and calling nothing his 
own, the wise man should purge himself from all the troubles of the 
mind. 

Those whose mind is well grounded in the seven elements of knowl- 
edge, who without clinging to anything, rejoice in freedom from attach- 
ment, whose appetites have been conquered, and who are full of light, 
they are free even in this world. 

CHAPTER VII: THE VENERABLE 

There is no suffering for him who has finished his journey, and aban- 
doned grief, who has freed himself on all sides, and thrown off all fetters. 

They exert themselves with their thoughts well-collected, they do not 
tarry in their abode; like swans who have left their lake, they leave their 
house and home. 

Men who have no riches, who live on recognized food, who have per- 
ceived void and unconditioned freedom (Nirvana), their path is difficult 
to understand, like that of birds in the air. 

He whose appetites are stilled, who is not absorbed in enjoyment, who 
has perceived void and unconditioned freedom (Nirvana), his path is 
difficult to understand, like that of birds in the air. 

The gods even envy him whose senses, like horses well broken in by 
the driver, have been subdued, who is free from pride, and free from 



BUDDHISM 


334 

appetites; such a one who does his duty is tolerant like the earth, or like 
a threshold; he is like a lake without mud; no new births are in store 
for him. 

His thought is quiet, quiet are his word and deed, when he has obtained 
freedom by true knowledge, when he has thus become a quiet man. 

The man who is free from credulity, but knows the uncreated, who 
has cut all ties, removed all temptations, renounced all desires, he is 
the greatest of men. 

In a hamlet or in a forest, on sea or on dry land, wherever venerable 
persons (Arahanta) dwell, that place is delightful. 

Forests are delightful; where the world finds no delight, there the 
passionless will find delight, for they look not for pleasures. 

CHAPTER VIII: THE THOUSANDS 

Even though a speech be a thousand (of words), but made up of sense- 
less words, one word of sense is better, which if a man hears, he becomes 
quiet. 

Even though a Gatha (poem) be a thousand (of words), but made up 
of senseless words, one word of a Gatha is better, which if a man hears, 
he becomes quiet. 

Though a man recite a hundred Gathas made up of senseless words, 
one word of the law is better, which if a man hears, he becomes quiet. 

If one man conquer in battle a thousand times a thousand men, and if 
another conquer himself, he is the greatest of conquerors. 

One’s own self conquered is better than all other people; not even a 
god, a Gandharva, not Mara (with Brahman), could change into defeat 
the victory of a man who has vanquished himself, and always lives 
under restraint. 

If a man for a hundred years sacrifice month by month with a thousand, 
and if he but for one moment pay homage to a man whose soul is 
grounded in true knowledge, better is that homage than a sacrifice for 
a hundred years. 

If a man for a hundred years worship Agni (fire) in the forest, and 
if he but for one moment pay homage to a man whose soul is grounded 
in true knowledge, better is that homage than sacrifice for a hundred 
years. 

Whatever a man sacrifice in this world as an offering or as an obla- 
tion for a whole year in order to gain merit, the whole of it is not 



THE DHAMMAPADA 


335 

worth a quarter a farthing; reverence shown to the righteous is better. 

He who always greets and constantly reveres the aged, four things will 
increase to him : life, beauty, happiness, power. 

But he who lives a hundred years, vicious and unrestrained, a life of 
one day is better if a man is virtuous and reflecting. 

And he who lives a hundred years, ignorant and unrestrained, a life 
of one day is better if a man is wise and reflecting. 

And he who lives a hundred years, idle and weak, a life of one day 
is better if a man has attained firm strength. 

And he who lives a hundred years, not seeing beginning and end, a 
life of one day is better if a man sees beginning and end. 

And he who lives a hundred years, not seeing the immortal place, a 
hfe of one day is better if a man sees the immortal place. 

And he who lives a hundred years, not seeing the highest law, a life 
of one day is better if a man sees the highest law. 

CHAPTER IX: EVIL 

A MAN should hasten towards towards the good, and should keep his 
thought away from evil; if a man does what is good slothfully, his mind 
delights in evil. 

If a man commits a sin, let him not do it again; let him not delight in 
sin: the accumulation of evil is painful. 

If a man does what is good, let him do it again; let him delight in it: 
the accumulation of good is delightful. 

Even an evil-doer sees happiness so long as his evil deed does not ripen; 
but when his evil deed ripens, then does the evil-doer see evil. 

Even a good man sees evil days so long as his good deed does not 
ripen; but when his good deed ripens, then does the good man see good 
things. 

Let no man think lightly of evil, saying in his heart, It will not come 
nigh unto me. Even by the falling of water-drops a water-pot is filled; 
the fool becomes full of evil, even if he gather it little by little. 

Let no man think lightly of good, saying in his heart. It will not come 
nigh unto me. Even by the falling of water-drops a water-pot is filled; 
the wise man becomes full of good, even if he gather it little by little. 

Let a man avoid evil deeds, as a merchant, if he has few companions 
and carries much wealth, avoids a dangerous road; as a man who loves 
life avoids ooison. 



BUDDHISM 


336 

He who has no wound on his hand, may touch poison with his hand; 
poison does not affect one who has no wound; nor is there evil for one 
who does not commit evil. 

If a man offend a harmless, pure, and innocent person, the evil falls 
back upon that fool, like light dust thrown up against the wind. 

Some people are born again; evil-doers go to hell; righteous people 
go to heaven; those who are free from all worldly desires attain Nirvana. 

Not in the sky, not in the midst of the sea, not if we enter into the 
clefts of the mountains, is there known a spot in the whole world where 
a man might be freed from an evil deed. 

Not in the sky, not in the midst of the sea, not if we enter into the clefts 
of the mountains, is there known a spot in the whole world where death 
could not overcome the mortal. 

CHAPTER X: PUNISHMENT 

All men tremble at punishment, all men fear death; remember that you 
are like unto them, and do not kill, nor cause slaughter. 

All men tremble at punishment, all men love life; remember that thou 
art like unto them, and do not kill, nor cause slaughter. 

He who, seeking his own happiness, punishes or kills beings who also 
long for happiness, will not find happiness after death. 

He who, seeking his own happiness, does not punish or kill beings who 
also long for happiness, will find happiness after death. 

Do not speak harshly to anyone; those who are spoken to will answer 
thee in the same way. Angry speech is painful: blows for blows will 
touch thee. 

If, like a shattered metal plate (gong), thou utter nothing, then thou 
hast reached Nirvana; anger is not known to thee. 

As a cow-herd with his staff drives his cows into the stable, so do Age 
and Death drive the life of men. 

A fool does not know when he commits his evil deeds: but the wicked 
man burns by his own deeds, as if burnt by fire. 

He who inflicts pain on innocent and harmless persons, will soon come 
to one of these ten states : — 

He will have cruel suffering, loss, injury of the body, heavy affliction, 
or loss of mind. 

A misfortune coming from .the. king, jor a fearful accusation, or loss 
of relations, or destruction of treasures, 



THE DHAMMAPADA 


337 

Lightning-fire will burn his houses; and when his body is destroyed, 
the fool will go to hell. 

Not nakedness, not platted hair, not dirt, not fasting, or lying on the 
earth, not rubbing with dust, not sitting motionless, can purify a mortal 
who has not overcome desires. 

He who, though dressed in fine apparel, exercises tranquility, is quiet, 
subdued, restrained, chaste, and has ceased to find fault with all other 
beings, he indeed is a Brahmana, an ascetic (sramana) , a friar (bhikshu) . 

Is there in this world any man so restrained by shame that he does not 
provoke reproof, as a noble horse the whip? 

Like a noble horse when touched by the whip, be ye strenuous and 
eager, and by faith, by virtue, by energy, by meditation, by discernment 
of the law, you will overcome this great pain, perfect in knowledge and 
in behavior, and never forgetful. 

Well-makers lead the water wherever they like; fletchers bend the 
arrow; carpenters bend a log of wood; good people fashion themselves. 

CHAPTER XI: OLD AGE 

How IS THERE LAUGHTER, how is there joy, as this world is always burning? 
Do you not seek a light, ye who are surrounded by darkness? 

Look at this dressed-up lump, covered with wounds, joined together, 
sickly, full of many schemes, but which has no strength, no hold^ 

This body is wasted, full of sickness, and frail; this heap of corruption 
breaks to pieces, life indeed ends in death. 

After one has looked at those gray bones, thrown away like gourds in 
the autumn, what pleasure is there left in life! 

After a stronghold has been made of the bones, it is covered with flesh 
and blood, and there dwell in it old age and death, pride and deceit. 

The brilliant chariots of kings are destroyed, the body also approaches 
destruction, but the virtue of good people never approaches destruction — 
thus do the good say to the good. 

A man who has learnt little, grows old like an ox; his flesh grows, but 
his knowledge does not grow. 

Looking for the maker of this tabernacle, I have run through a course 
of many births, not finding him; and painful is birth again and again. 
But now, maker of the tabernacle, thou hast been seen; thou shalt not 
make up this tabernacle again. All thy rafters are broken, thv ridge-pole 



BUDDHISM 


338 

is sundered; the mind, approaching the Eternal (visankhara, nirvana), 
has attained to the extinction of all desires. 

Men who have not observed proper discipline, and have not gained 
wealth in their youth, perish like old herons in a lake without fish. 

Men who have not observed proper discipline, and have not gained 
wealth in their youth, he, like broken bows, sighing after the past. 

CHAPTER XII: SELF 

If a man hold himself dear, let him watch himself carefully; during one 
at least out of the three watches a wise man should be watchful. 

Let each man direct himself first to what is proper, then let him teach 
others; thus a wise man will not suffer. 

If a man make himself as he teaches others to be, then, being himself 
well subdued, he may subdue others; for one’s own self is difficult to 
subdue. 

Self is the lord of self, who else could be the lord? With self well 
subdued, a man finds a lord such as few can find. 

The evil done by one’s self, selfiforgotten, self-bred, crushes the foolish, 
as a diamond breaks even a precious stone. 

He whose wickedness is very great brings himself down to that state 
where his enemy wishes him to be, as a creeper does with the tree which 
it surrounds. 

Bad deeds, and deeds hurtful to ourselves, are easy to do; what is bene- 
ficial and good, that is very difficult to do. 

The foolish man who scorns the rule of the venerable (Arhat), of the 
elect (Ariya), of the virtuous, and follows a false doctrine, he bears fruit 
to his own destruction, like the fruits of the Katthaka reed. 

By one’s self the evil is done, by one’s self one suffers; by one’s self evil 
is left undone, by one’s self one is purified. The pure and the impure 
stand and fall by themselves, no one can purify another. 

Let no one forget his own duty for the sake of another’s, however 
great; let a man, after he has discerned his ov^n duty, be always attentive 
to his duty. 


CHAPTER XII: THE WORLD 

Do NOT FOLLOW the evil law! Do not live on in thoughtlessness! Do not 
follow false doctrine! Be not a friend of the world. 



THE DHAMMAPADA 


339 

Rouse thyself! do not be idle! Follow the law of virtue! The virtuous 
rest in bliss in this world and in the next. 

Fellow the law of virtue; do not follow that of sin. The virtuous rest 
in bliss in this world and in the next. 

Look upon the world as you would on a bubble, look upon it as you 
would on a mirage : the king of death does not see him who thus looks 
down upon the world. 

Come, look .at this world, glittering like a royal chariot; the foolish 
are immersed in it, but the wise do not touch it. 

He who formerly was reckless and afterwards became sober, brightens 
up this world, like the moon when freed from clouds. 

He whose evil deeds are covered by good deeds, brightens up this 
world, like the moon when freed from clouds. 

This world is dark, few only can see here; a few only go to heaven, 
like birds escaped from the net. 

The swans go on the path of the sun, they go miraculously through the 
ether; the wise are led out of this world, when they have conquered 
Mara and his train. 

If a man has transgressed the one law, and speaks lies, and scoffs at 
another world, there is no evil he will not do. 

The uncharitable do not go to the world of the gods; fools only do not 
praise liberality; a wise man rejoices in liberality, and through it becomes 
blessed in the other world. 

Better than sovereignty over the earth, better than going to heaven, 
better than lordship over all worlds, is the reward of Sotapatti, the first 
step in holiness. 


CHAPTER XIV: 

THE BUDDHA-THE AWAKENED 

He whose conquest cannot be conquered again, into whose conquest no 
one in this world enters, by what track can you lead him, the Awakened, 
the Omniscient, the trackless? 

He whom no desire with its snares and poisons can lead astray, by 
what track can you lead him, the Awakened, the Omniscient, the 
trackless? 

Even the gods envy those who are awakened and not forgetful, who 
are given to meditation, who are wise, and who delight in the repose of 
retirement from the world. 



BUDDHISM 


340 

Difficult to obtain is the conception of men, difficult is the life of 
mortals, difficult is the hearing of the True Law, difficult is the birth of 
the Awakened (the attainment of Buddhahood). 

Not to commit any sin, to do good, and to purify one’s mind, that is 
the teaching of all the Awakened. 

The Awakened call patience the highest penance, long-suffering the 
highest Nirvana; for he is not an anchorite (pravragita) who strikes 
others, he is not an ascetic (sramana) who insults others. 

Not to blame, not to strike, to live restrained under the law, to be 
moderate in eating, to sleep and sit alone, and to dwell on the highest 
thoughts — ^this is the teaching of the Awakened. 

There is no satisfying lusts, even by a shower of gold pieces; he who 
knows that lusts have a short taste and cause pain, he is wise; even in 
heavenly pleasures he finds no satisfaction, the disciple who is fully 
awakened delights only in the destruction of all desires. 

Men, driven by fear, go to many a refuge, to mountains and forests, to 
groves and sacred trees. 

But that is not a safe refuge, that is not the best refuge; a man is not 
delivered from all pains after having gone to that refuge. 

He who takes refuge with Buddha, the Law, and the Church; he who, 
with clear understanding, sees the four holy truths: pain, the origin of 
pain, the destruction of pain, and the eightfold holy way that leads to 
the quieting of pain;— -that is the safe refuge, that is the best refuge; 
having gone to that refuge, a man is delivered from all pain. 

A supernatural person (a Buddha) is not easily found: he is not born 
everywhere. Wherever such a sage is born, that race prospers. 

Happy is the arising of the Awakened, happy is the teaching of the 
True Law, happy is peace in the church, happy is the devotion of those 
who are at peace. 

He who pays homage to those who deserve homage, whether the 
awakened (Buddha) or their disciples, those who have overcome the 
host of evils, and crossed the flood of sorrow, he who pays homage to 
such as have found deliverance and know no fear, his merit can never 
be measured by anyone. 

CHAPTER XV: HAPPINESS 

We live happily indeed, not hating those who hate us! among men 
who hate us we dwell free from hatred! We live happily indeed, free 



THE DHAMMAPADA 


34 ^ 

from ailments among the ailing! among men who are ailing let us dwell 
free from ailments! 

We live happily indeed, free from greed among the greedy! among 
men who are greedy let us dwell free from greed! 

We live happily indeed, though we call nothing our own! We shall 
be like the bright gods, feeding on happiness! 

Victory breeds hatred, for the conquered is unhappy. He who has 
given up both victory and defeat, he, the contented, is happy. 

There is no fire like passion; there is no losing throw like hatred; there 
is no pain like this body; there is no happiness higher than rest. 

Hunger is the worst of diseases, the elements of the body the greatest 
evil; if one knows this truly, that is Nirvana, the highest happiness. 

Health is the greatest of gifts, contentedness the best riches; trust is the 
best of relationships, Nirvana the highest happiness. 

He who has tasted the sweetness of solitude and tranquillity, is free 
from fear and free from sin, whila he tastes the sweetness of drinking in 
the law. 

The sight of the elect (Ariya) is good, to live with them is always 
happiness; if a man does not see fools, he will be truly happy. 

He who walks in the company of fools suffers a long way; company 
with fools, as with an enemy, is always painful; company with the wise 
is pleasure, like meeting with kinsfolk. 

Therefore, one ought to follow the wise, the intelligent, the learned, 
the much enduring, the dutiful, the elect; one ought to follow such a 
good and wise man, as the moon follows the path of the stars. 

CHAPTER XVI: PLEASURE 

He who gives himself to vanity, and does not give himself to medita- 
tion, forgetting the real aim of life and grasping at pleasure, will in time 
envy him who has exerted himself in meditation. 

Let no man ever cling to what is pleasant, or to what is unpleasant. 
Not to see what is pleasant is pain, and it is pain to see what is unpleasant. 

Let, therefore, no man love anything; loss of the beloved is evil. Those 
who love nothing, and hate nothing, have no fetters. 

From pleasure comes grief, from pleasures comes fear; he who is free 
from pleasure knows neither grief nor fear. 

From affection comes grief, from affection comes fear; he who is free 
from affection knows neither grief nor fear. 



BUDDHISM 


342 

From lust comes grief, from lust comes fear; he who is free from lust 
knows neither grief nor fear. 

From love comes grief, from love comes fear; he who is free from love 
knows neither grief nor fear. 

From greed comes grief, from greed comes fear; he who is free from 
greed knows neither grief nor fear. 

He who possesses virtue and intelligence, who is just, speaks the truth, 
and does what is his own business, him the world will hold dear. 

He in whom a desire for the Ineffable (Nirvana) has sprung up, who 
in his mind is satisfied, and whose thoughts are not bewildered by love, 
he is called urdhvamsrotas (carried upwards by the stream). 

Kinsmen, friends, and lovers salute a man who has been long away, 
and returns safe from afar. 

In like manner his good works receive him who has done good, and 
has gone from this world to the other; — as kinsmen receive a friend on 
his return. 


CHAPTER XVII: ANGER 

Let a man leave anger, let him forsake pride, let him overcome all bond- 
age I No sufferings befall the man who is not attached to name and form, 
and who calls nothing his own. 

He who holds back rising anger like a rolling chariot, him I call a real 
driver; other people are but holding the reins. 

Let a man overcome anger by love, let him overcome evil by good; let 
him overcome the greedy by liberality, the liar by truth! 

Speak the truth, do not yield to anger; give, if thou art asked for little; 
by these three steps thou wilt go near the gods. 

The sages who injure nobody, and who always control their body, they 
will go to the unchangeable place (Nirvana), where, if they have gone, 
they will suffer no more. 

Those who are ever watchful, who study day and night, and who strive 
after Nirvana, their passions will come to an end. 

This is an old saying, O Atula, this is not as if of to-day: “They blame 
him who sits silent, they blame him who speaks much, they also blame 
him who says little; there is no one on earth who is not blamed.” 

There never was, there never will be, nor is there now, a man who is 
always blamed, or a man who is always praised. 

But he whom those who discriminate praise continually day after day, 



THE dhammapada 


343 

as without blemish, wise, rich in knowledge and virtue, who would dare 
to blame him, like a coin made of gold from the Gambu river? Even the 
gods praise him, he is praised even by Brahman. 

Beware of bodily anger, and control thy body! Leave the sms of the 
body, and with thy body practise virtue! 

Beware of the anger of the tongue, and control thy tongue! Leave the 
sins of the tongue, and practise virtue with thy tongue ^ 

Beware of the anger of the mind, and control thy mind! Leave the sins 
of the mind, and practise virtue with thy mind! 

The wise who control their body, who control their tongue, the wise 
who control their mind, are indeed well controlled. 

CHAPTER XVIII: IMPURITY 

Thou art now like a sear leaf, the messengers of death (Yama) have 
come near to thee; thou standest at the door of thy departure, and thou 
hast no provision for thy journey. 

Make thyself an island, work hard, be wise! When thy impurities are 
blown away, and thou art free from guilt, thou wilt enter into the heaven- 
ly world of the elect ( Ariya) . 

Thy life has come to an end, thou art come near to death (Yama), 
there is no resting-place for thee on the road, and thou hast no provision 
for thy journey. 

Make thyself an island, work hard, be wise! When thy impurities are 
blown away, and thou art free from guilt, thou wilt not enter again into 
birth and decay. 

Let a wise man blow off the impurities of himself, as a smith blows off 
the impurities of silver, one by one, little by little, and from time to time. 

As the impurity which springs from the iron, when it springs from it, 
destroys it; thus do a transgressor’s own works lead him to the evil path. 

The taint of prayers is non-repetition; the taint of houses, non-repair; 
the taint of complexion is sloth; the taint of a watchman, thoughtlessness. 

Bad conduct is the taint of woman, niggardliness the taint of a bene- 
factor; tainted are all evil ways, in this world and in the next. 

But there is a taint worse than all taints— ignorance is the greatest taint. 
O mendicants! throw off that taint, and become taintless ^ 

Life is easy to live for a man who is without shame: a crow hero, a 
mischief-maker, an insulting, bold, and wretched fellow. 



BUDDHISM 


344 

But life IS hard to live for a modest man, who always looks for what 
is pure, who is disinterested, quiet, spotless, and intelligent. 

He who destroys life, who speaks untruth, who in the world takes 
what IS not given him, who goes to another man’s wife; and the man 
who gives himself to drinking intoxicating liquors, he, even m this 
world, digs up his own root. 

O man, know this, that the unrestrained are in a bad state; take care 
that greediness and vice do not bring thee to grief for a long time! 

The world gives according to their faith or according to their pleasure : 
if a man frets about the food and the drink given to others, he will find 
no rest either by day or by night. 

He in whom that feehng is destroyed, and taken out with the very root, 
finds rest by day and by night. 

There is no fire like passion, there is no shark like hatred, there is no 
snare like folly, there is no torrent like greed. 

The fault of others is easily perceived, but that of one’s self is difficult 
to perceive; a man winnows his neighbor’s faults like chaff, but his own 
fault he hides, as a cheat hides the bad die from the player. 

If a man looks after the faults of others, and is always inclined to be 
offended, his own passions will grow, and he is far from the destruction 
of passions. 

There is no path through the air, a man is not a Samana outwardly. 
The world delights m vanity, the Tathagatas (the Buddhas) are free 
from vanity. 

There is no path through the air, a man is not a Samana outwardly. 
No creatures are eternal; but the awakened (Buddha) are never shaken. 

CHAPTER XIX: THE JUST 

A MAN IS NOT JUST if he carries a matter by violence; no, he who distin- 
guishes both right and wrong, who is learned and guides others, not by 
violence, but by the same law, being a guardian of the law and intelli- 
gent, he is called just. 

A man is not learned because he talks much; he who is patient, free 
from hatred and fear, he is called learned. 

A man is not a supporter of the law because he talks much; even if a 
man has learnt httle, but sees the law bodily, he is a supporter of the 
law, a man who never neglects the law. 



THE DHAMMAPADA 


345 

A man is not an elder because his head is gray; his age may be ripe, but 
he IS called “Old-in-vain 

He in whom there is truth, virtue, pity, restraint, moderation, he who 
is free from impurity and is wise, he is called an elder. 

An envious, stingy, dishonest man does not become respectable by 
means of much talking only, or by the beauty of his complexion. 

He in whom all this is destroyed, and taken out with the very root, he, 
when freed from hatred, is called respectable. 

Not by tonsure does an undisciplined man who speaks falsehood 
become a Samana can a man be a Samana who is still held captive 
by desire and greediness? 

He who always quiets the evil, whether small or large, he is called a 
Samana (a quiet man), because he has quieted all evil. 

A man is not a mendicant (Bhikshu) simply because he asks others 
for alms; he who adopts the whole law is a Bhikshu, not he who only begs. 

He who is above good and evil, who is chaste, who with care passes 
through the world, he indeed is called a Bhikshu. 

A man is not a Muni ^ because he observes silence if he is foolish and 
ignorant; but the wise who, as with the balance, chooses the good and 
avoids evil, he is a Muni, and is a Muni thereby; he who in this world 
weighs both sides is called a Muni. 

A man is not an elect (Anya) because he injures living creatures; 
because he has pity on all living creatures, therefore is a man called 
Ariya. 

Not only by discipline and vows, not only by much learning, not by 
entering into a trance, not by sleeping alone, do I earn the happiness of 
release which no worldling can know. O Bhikshu, he who has obtained 
the extinction of desires, has obtained confidence. 

CHAPTER XX: THE WAY 

The best of ways is the eightfold the best of truths the four words the 
best of virtues passionlessness; the best of men he who has eyes to see. 

This is the way, there is no other that leads to the purifying of intelli- 
gence. Go on this path! This is the confusion of Mara, the tempter. 

^ Pah form of Sanskrit Sramana, an ascetic. 

® A holy sage. 

® Right Doctnne, Right Purpose, Right Discourse, Right Behavior, Right Punty, Right 
Thought, Right Solitude, Right Rapture. 

* Chap. XIV, 



BUDDHISM 


346 

If you go on this way, you will make an end of pain! The way preached 
by me, when I had understood the removal of the thorns in the flesh. 

You yourself must make an effort. The Tathagatas (Buddhas) are 
only preachers. The thoughtful who enter the way are freed from the 
bondage of Mara. 

“All created things perish,” he who knows and sees this becomes 
passive in pain; this is the way to purity. 

“All created things are grief and pain,” he who knows and sees this 
becomes passive in pain; this is the way that leads to purity. 

“All forms are unreal,” he who knows and sees this becomes passive 
in pain; this is the way that leads to purity. 

He who does not rouse himself when it is time to rise, who, though 
young and strong, is full of sloth, whose will and thought are weak, that 
lazy and idle man never finds the way to knowledge. 

Watching his speech, well restrained in mind, let a man never commit 
any wrong with his body! Let a man but keep these three roads of action 
clear, and he will achieve the way which is taught by the wise. 

Through zeal knowledge is gained, through lack of zeal knowledge is 
lost; let a man who knows this double path of gam and loss thus place 
himself that knowledge may grow. 

Cut down the whole forest of desires, not a tree only! Danger comes 
out of the forest of desires. When you have cut down both the forest of 
desires and its undergrowth, then, Bhikshus, you will be rid of the forest 
and of desires! 

So long as the desire of man towards women, even the smallest, is not 
destroyed, so long is his mind in bondage, as the calf that drinks milk 
is to its mother. 

Cut out the love of self, like an autumn lotus, with thy hand! Cherish 
the road of peace. Nirvana has been shown by Sugata (Buddha). 

“Here I shall dwell in the ram, here in winter and summer,” thus the 
fool meditates, and does not think of death. 

Death comes and carries off that man, honored for his children and 
flocks, his mind distracted, as a flood carries off a sleeping village. 

Sons are no help, nor a father, nor relations; there is no help from 
kinsfolk for one whom death has seized. 

A wise and well-behaved man who knows the meaning of this, should 
(Quickly clear the way that leads to Nirvana, 



THE DHAMMAPADA 


347 


CHAPTER XXI: MISCELLANEOUS 

If by leaving a small pleasure one sees a great pleasure, let a wise man 
leave the small pleasure, and look to the great. 

He who, by causing pain to others, wishes to obtain pleasure for him- 
self, he, entangled in the bonds of hatred, will never be free from hatred. 

What ought to be done is neglected, what ought not to be done is done; 
the desires of unruly, thoughtless people are always increasing. 

But they whose whole watchfulness is always directed to their body, 
who do not follow what ought not to be done, and who steadfastly do 
what ought to be done, the desires of such watchful and wise people will 
come to an end. 

A true Brahmana goes scathless, though he have killed father and 
mother, and two valiant kings, though he has destroyed a kingdom with 
all its subjects. 

A true Brahmana goes scathless, though he have killed father and 
mother, and two holy kings, and an eminent man besides. 

The disciples of Gotama (Buddha) are always well awake, and their 
thoughts day and night are always set on Buddha. 

The disciples of Gotama are always well awake, and their thoughts day 
and night are always set on the law. 

The disciples of Gotama are always well awake, and their thoughts day 
and night are always set on the church. 

The disciples of Gotama are always well awake, and their thoughts day 
and night are always set on their body. 

The disciples of Gotama are always well awake, and their mind day 
and night always delights in compassion. 

The disciples of Gotama are always well awake, and their mind day 
and night always delights in meditation. 

It is hard to leave the world to become a friar, it is hard to enjoy the 
world; hard is the monastery, painful are the houses; painful it is to 
dwell with equals to share everything in common, and the itinerant 
mendicant is beset with pain. Therefore let no man be an itinerant 
mendicant, and he will not be beset with pain. 

A man full of faith, if endowed with virtue and glory, is respected, 
whatever place he may choose. 

Good people shine from afar, like the snowy mountains; bad people 
are not seen, like arrows shot by night. 



BUDDHISM 


348 

Sitting alone, lying down alone, walking alone without ceasing, and 
alone subduing himself, let a man be happy near the edge of a forest. 

CHAPTER XXII: THE DOWNWARD COURSE 

He who says what is not, goes to hell; he also who, having done a thing, 
says I have not done it. After death both are equal: they are men with 
evil deeds in the next world. 

Many men whose shoulders are covered with the yellow gown ^ are 
ill-conditioned and unrestrained; such evil-doers by their evil deeds go 
to hell. 

Better it would be to swallow a heated iron ball, like flaring fire, than 
that a bad unrestrained fellow should live on the charity of the land. 

Four things does a reckless man gain who covets his neighbor’s wife — 
demerit, an uncomfortable bed, thirdly, punishment, and lastly, hell. 

There is demerit, and the evil way to hell: there is the short pleasure 
of the frightened in the arms of the frightened, and the king imposes 
heavy punishment; therefore let no man think of his neighbor’s wife. 

As a grass-blade, if badly grasped, cuts the arm, badly-practised asceti- 
cism leads to hell. 

An act carelessly performed, a broken vow, and hesitating obedience 
to discipline (Brahma-kariyam), all this brings no great reward. 

If anything is to be done, let a man do it, let him attack it vigorously! 
A careless pilgrim only scatters the dust of his passions more widely. 

An evil deed is better left undone, for a man repents of it afterwards; 
a good deed is better done, for having done it, one does not repent. 

Like a well-guarded frontier fort, with defences within and without, so 
let a man guard himself. Not a moment should escape, for they who 
allow the right moment to pass, suffer pain when they are in hell. 

They who are ashamed of what they ought not to be ashamed of, and 
are not ashamed of what they ought to be ashamed of, such men, em- 
bracing false doctrines, enter the evil path. 

They who fear when they ought not to fear, and fear not when they 
ought to fear, such men, embracing false doctrines, enter the evil path. 

They who see sin where there is no sin, and see no sin where there is 
sin, such men, embracing false doctrines, enter the evil path. 

They who see sin where there is sin, and no sin where there is no sin, 
such men, embracing the true doctrine, enter the good path. 

Priests. 



THE DHAMMAPADA 


349 


CHAPTER XXIII: THE ELEPHANT 

Silently I endured abuse as the elephant in battle endures the arrow sent 
from the bow : for the world is ill-natured. 

They lead a tamed elephant to battle, the king mounts a tamed ele- 
phant; the tamed is the best among men, he who silently endures abuse. 

Mules are good, if tamed, and noble Sindhu horses, and elephants with 
large tusks; but he who tames himself is better still. 

For with these animals does no man reach the untrodden country 
(Nirvana), where a tamed man goes on a tamed animal — on his own 
well-tamed self. 

The elephant called Dhanapalaka, his temples running with pungent 
sap, and who is difficult to hold, does not eat a morsel when bound; the 
elephant longs for the elephant grove. 

If a man becomes fat and a great eater, if he is sleepy and rolls himself 
about, that fool, hke a hog fed on grains, is born again and again. 

This mind of mine went formerly wandering about as it liked, as it 
listed, as it pleased; but I shall now hold it in thoroughly, as the rider 
who holds the hook holds in the furious elephant. 

Be not thoughtless, watch your thoughts! Draw yourself out of the 
evil way, hke an elephant sunk in mud. 

If a man find a prudent companion who walks with him,' is wise, and 
lives soberly, he may walk with him, overcoming all dangers, happy, 
but considerate. - „ * 

If a man find no prudent companion who walks with him, is wise, 
and lives soberly, let him walk alone, like a king who has left his con- 
quered country behind — like an elephant in the forest. 

It is better to live alone: there is no companionship with a fool; let a 
man walk alone, let him commit no sin, with few wishes, like an elephant 
in the forest. 

If the occasion arises, friends are pleasant; enjoyment is pleasant, what- 
ever be the cause; a good work is pleasant in the hour of death; the giving 
up of all grief is pleasant. 

Pleasant in the world is the state of a mother, pleasant the state of a 
father, pleasant the state of a Samana, pleasant the state of a Brahmana. 

Pleasant is virtue lasting to old age, pleasant is a faith firmly rooted; 
pleasant is attainment of intelligence, pleasant is avoiding of sins, 



350 


BUDDHISM 


CHAPTER XXIV: THIRST 

The thirst of a thoughtless man grows like a creeper; he runs from 
life to life, like a monkey seeking fruit in the forest. 

Whomsoever this fierce poisonous thirst overcomes, in this world, his 
sufferings increase like the abounding Birana grass. 

But from him who overcomes this fierce thirst, difficult to be con- 
quered in this world, sufferings fall off, like water-drops from a lotus leaf. 

This salutary word I tell you, “Do ye, as many as are here assembled, 
dig up the root of thirst, as he who wants the sweet-scented Usira root 
must dig up the Birana grass, that Mara, the tempter, may not crush you 
again and again, as the stream crushes the reeds.” 

As a tree, even though it has been cut down, is firm so long as its root 
is safe, and grows again, thus, unless the feeders of thirst are destroyed, 
this pain of life will return again and again. 

He whose thirty-six streams are strongly flowing in the channels of 
pleasure, the waves — ^his desires which are set on passion — ^will carry 
away that misguided man. * 

The channels run everywhere, the creeper of passion stands sprouting; 
if you see the creeper springing up, cut its root by means of knowledge. 

A creature’s pleasures are extravagant and luxurious; given up to 
pleasure and deriving happiness, men undergo again and again birth 
and decay. 

Beset with lust, men run about like a snared hare; held in fetters and 
bonds, they undergo pain for a long time, again and again. 

Beset with lust, men run about like a snared hare; let therefore the 
mendicant drive out thirst, by striving after passionlessness for himself. 

He who, having got rid of the forest of lust (after having reached 
Nirvana), gives himself over to forest-life (to lust), and who, when free 
from the forest (from lust), runs to the forest (to lust), look at that man! 
though free, he runs into bondage. 

Wise people do not call that a strong fetter which is made of iron, 
wood, or hemp; passionately strong is the care for precious stones and 
rings, for sons and a wife. 

That fetter wise people call strong which drags down, yields, but is 
difficult to undo; after having cut this at last, people leave the world, free 
from cares, and leaving the pleasures of love behind. 

Those who are slaves to passions, run down the stream of desires, as 



THE DHAMMAPADA 


351 

a spider runs down the web which he has made himself; when they have 
cut this, at last, wise people go onwards, free from cares, leaving all pain 
behind. 

Give up what is before, give up what is behind, give up what is between, 
when thou goest to the other shore of existence; if thy mind is altogether 
free, thou will not again enter into birth and decay. 

If a man is tossed about by doubts, full of strong passions, and yearning 
only for what is delightful, his thirst will grow more and more, and he 
will indeed make his fetters strong. 

If a man delights in quieting doubts, and, always reflecting, dwells on 
what is not delightful, he certainly will remove, nay, he will cut the 
fetter of Mara. 

He who has reached the consummation, who does not tremble, who is 
without thirst and without sin, he has broken all the thorns of life: this 
will be his last body. 

He who is without thirst and without affection, who understands the 
words and their interpretation, who knows the order of letters (those 
which are before and which are after), he has received his last body, he 
is called the great sage, the great man. 

‘1 have conquered all, I know all, in all conditions of life I am free from 
taint; I have left all, and through the destruction of thirst I am free; 
having learnt myself, whom should I indicate as my teacher?” 

The gift of the law exceeds all gifts; the sweetness of the law exceeds all 
sweetness; the delight in the law exceeds all delights; the extinction of 
thirst overcomes all pain. 

Riches destroy the foolish, if they look not for the other shore; the 
foolish by his thirst for riches destroys himself, as if he were destroying 
others. 

The fields are damaged by weeds, mankind is damaged by passion: 
therefore a gift bestowed on the passionless brings great reward. 

The fields are damaged by weeds, mankind is damaged by hatred: 
therefore a gift bestowed on those who do not hate brings great reward. 

The fields are damaged by weeds, mankind is damaged by vanity: 
therefore a gift bestowed on those who are free from vanity brings great 
reward. 

The fields are damaged by weeds, mankind is damaged by lust: there- 
fore a gift bestowed on those who are free from lust brings great reward. 



352 


BUDDHISM 


CHAPTER XXV: THE BHIKSHU^ 

Restraint in the eye is good, good is restraint in the car, in the nose 
restraint is good, good is restraint in the tongue. 

In the body restraint is good, good is restraint in speech, in thought 
restraint is good, good is restraint in all things. A Bhikshu, restrained in 
all things, is L*eed from all pain. 

He who controls his hand, he who controls his feet, he who controls 
his speech, he who is well controlled, he who delights inwardly, who is 
collected, who is solitary and content, him they call Bhikshu. 

The Bhikshu who controls his mouth, who speaks wisely and calmly, 
who teaches the meaning and the law, his word is sweet. 

He who dwells in the law, delights in the law, meditates on the law, 
recollects the law: that Bhikshu will never fall away from the true law. 

Let him not despise what he has received, nor ever envy others: a 
mendicant who envies others does not obtain peace of mind. 

A Bhikshu who, though he receives little, does not despise what he 
has received, even the gods will praise him, if his life is pure, and if he is 
not slothful. 

He who never identifies himself with name and form, and does not 
grieve over what is no more, he indeed is called a Bhikshu. 

The Bhikshu who behaves with kindness, who is happy in the doctrine 
of Buddha, will reach the quiet place (Nirvana), happiness arising from 
the cessation of natural inclinations. 

O Bhikshu, empty this boat! if emptied, it will go quickly; having cut 
off passion and hatred, thou wilt go to Nirvana. 

Cut off the five fetters, leave the five, rise above the five. A Bhikshu, 
who has escaped from the five fetters, he is called Oghatinna — “saved 
from the flood.” 

Meditate, O Bhikshu, and be not heedless! Do not direct thy thought 
to what gives pleasure, that thou mayest not for thy heedlessness have to 
swallow the iron ball in hell, and ^at thou mayest not cry out when 
burning, “This is pain.” 

Without knowledge there is no meditation, without meditation there 
is no knowledge: he who has knowledge and meditation is near unto 
Nirv^a, 

A Bhikshu who has entered his empty house, and whose mind is tran- 

’'Monk, mendicant, a religious devotee. 



THE DHAMMAPADA 


353 

quil, feels a more than human delight when he sees the law clearly. 

As soon as he has considered the origin and destruction of the elements 
of the body, he finds happiness and joy which belong to those who know 
the immortal (Nirvana). 

And this is the beginning here for a wise Bhikshu: watchfulness over 
the senses, contentedness, restraint under the law; keep noble friends 
whose life is pure, and who are not slothful. 

Let him live in charity, let him be perfect m his duties; then m the 
fulness of delight he will make an end of suffering. 

As the Vassika plant shed its withered flowers, men should shed pas- 
sion and hatred, O ye Bhikshus! 

The Bhikshu whose body and tongue and mind are quieted, who is 
collected, and has rejected the baits of the world, he is called quiet. 

Rouse thyself by thyself, examine thyself by thyself, thus self -protected 
and attentive wilt thou live happily, O Bhikshu! 

For self is the lord of self, self is the refuge of self; therefore curb thy- 
self as the merchant curbs a noble horse. 

The Bhikshu, full of delight, who is happy in the doctrine of Buddha 
will reach the quiet place (Nirvana), happiness consisting in the cessation 
of natural inclinations. 

He who, even as a young Bhikshu, applies himself to the doctrine of 
Buddha, brightens up this world, like the moon when free from clouds. 

CHAPTER XXVI: THE BRAHMANA" 

Stop the stream valiantly, drive away the desires, O Brahmana! When 
you have understood the destruction of all that was made, you will under- 
stand that which was not made. 

. If the Brahmana has reached the other shore in both laws, in restraint 
and contemplation, all bonds vanish from him who has obtained 
knowledge. 

He for whom there is neither the hither nor the further shore, nor both, 
him, the fearless and unshackled, I call indeed a Brahmana. 

He who is thoughtful, blameless, settled, dutiful, without passions, 
and who has attained the highest end, him I call indeed a Brahmana. 

The sun is bright by day, the moon shines by night, the warrior is 
bright in his armor, the Brahmana is bright in his meditation; but 
Buddha, the Awakened, is bright with splendor day and night, 

^ Usually called “Brahmin.” in English, 



BUDDHISM 


354 

Because a man is rid o£ evil, therefore he is called Brahmana; because 
he walks quietly, therefore he is called Samana; because he has sent away 
his own impurities, therefore he is called Pravragita (Pabbagita,' a 
pilgrim). 

No one should attack a Brahmana, but no Brahmana, i£ attacked, 
should let himself fly at his aggressor! Woe to him who strikes a Brah- 
mana, more woe to him who flies at his aggressor! 

It advantages a Brahmana not a little if he holds his mind back from 
the pleasures of life; the more all wish to injure has vanished, the more 
all pain will cease. 

Him I call indeed a Brahmana who does not offend by body, word, or 
thought, and is controlled on these three points. 

He from whom he may learn the law, as taught by the Well-awakened 
(Buddha), him let him worship assiduously, as the Brahmana worships 
the sacrificial fire. 

A man does not become a Brahmana by his plaited hair, by his family, 
or by birth; in whom there is truth and righteousness, he is blessed, he 
is a Brahmana. 

What is the use of plaited hair, O fool! what of the raiment of goat- 
skins.? Within thee there is ravening, but the outside thou makest clean. 

The man who wears dirty raiments, who is emaciated and covered 
with veins, who meditates alone in the forest, him I call indeed a 
Brahmana. 

I do not call a man a Brahmana because of his origin or of his mother. 
He is indeed arrogant, and he is wealthy: but the poor, who is free 
from all attachments, him I call indeed a Brahmana. 

Him I call indeed a Brahmana who, after cutting all fetters, never 
trembles, is free from bonds and unshackled. 

Him I call indeed a Brahmana who, after cutting the strap and the 
thong, the rope with all that pertains to it, has destroyed all obstacles, 
and is awakened. 

Him I call indeed a Brahmana who, though he has committed no 
offence, endures reproach, stripes, and bonds: who has endurance for 
his force, and strength for his army. 

Him I call indeed a Brahmana who is free from anger, dutiful, vir- 
tuous, without appetites, who is subdued, and has received his last body. 

Him I call indeed a Brahmana who, does not cling to sensual pleasures, 
like water on a lotus leaf, like a mustard seed on the point of a needle* 

^ Pall for Saii§krit Pravragita* 



THE DHAMMAPADA 


355 

Him I call indeed a Brahmana who, even here, knows the end of 
his own suffering, has put down his burden, and is unshackled. 

Him I call indeed a Brahmana whose knowledge is deep, who pos- 
sesses wisdom, who knows the right way and the wrong, and has at- 
tained the highest end. 

Him I call indeed a Brahmana who keeps aloof both from laymen 
and from mendicants, who frequents no houses, and has but few desires. 

Him I call indeed a Brahmana who without hurting any creatures, 
whether feeble or strong, does not kill nor cause slaughter. 

Him I call indeed a Brahmana who is tolerant with the intolerant, 
mild with the violent, and free from greed among the greedy. 

Him I call indeed a Brahmana from whom anger and hatred, pride 
and hypocrisy have dropped like a mustard seed from the point of a 
needle. 

Him I call indeed a Brahmana who utters true speech, instructive 
and free from harshness, so that he offend no one. 

Him I call indeed a Brahmana who takes nothing in the world that 
is not given him, be it long or short, small or large, good or bad. 

Him I call indeed a Brahmana who fosters no desires for this world 
or for the next, has no inclinations, and is unshackled. 

Him I call indeed a Brahmana who has no interests, and when he 
has understood the truth, does not say How, how ? and who has reached 
the depth of the Immortal. 

Him I call indeed a Brahmana who in this world has risen above both 
ties, good and evil, who is free from grief, from sin, and from impurity. 

Him I call indeed a Brahmana who is bright like the moon, pure, 
serene, undisturbed, and in whom all gayety is extinct. 

Him I call indeed a Brahmana who has traversed this miry road, the 
impassable world, dilBcult to pass, and its vanity, who has gone through, 
and reached the other shore, is thoughtful, steadfast, free from doubts, 
free from attachment, and content. 

Him I call indeed a Brahmana who in this world, having abandoned 
all desires, travels about without a home, and in whom all concupiscence 
is extinct. 

Him I call indeed a Brahmana who, having abandoned all longings, 
travels about without a home, and in whom all covetousness is extinct. 

Him I call indeed a Brahmana who, after leaving all bondage to men, 
his risen above all bondage to the gods, and is free from all and every 
bondage. 



BUDDHISM 


356 

Him I call indeed a Brahmana who has left what gives pleasure and 
what gives pain, who is cold, and free from all germs of renewed life: 
the hero who has conquered all the worlds. 

Him I call indeed a Brahmana who knows the destruction and the 
return of beings everywhere, who is free from bondage, welfanng 
(Sugata), and awakened (Buddha). 

Him I call indeed a Brahmana whose path the gods do not know, nor 
spirits (Gandharvas), nor men, whose passions are extinct, and who is 
an Arhat. 

Him I call indeed a Brahmana who calls nothing his own, whether it 
be before, behind, or between; who is poor, and free from the love of 
the world. 

Him I call indeed a Brahmana, the manly, the noble, the hero, the great 
sage, the conqueror, the indifferent, the accomplished, the awakened. 

Him I call indeed a Brahmana who knows his former abodes, who sees 
heaven an4 hell, has reached the end of births, is perfect in knowledge, a 
sage, and whose perfections are all perfect. 




Three Sermons by Buddha 


INTRODUCTION 

Some Christians may feel humiliated to find that the Buddhist teach- 
ings of love and mercy and kindness to fellowmen and animals, and 
particularly of not requiting evil with evil, stand on the same ethical 
height with the best of the Christian teachings. It may be a shock to 
learn that there is real truth even in revealed truth, and that that truth 
can be arrived at by independent human minds, or that there is some- 
thing in the nature of human relationships and of this universe which 
calls for righteousness and mercy, apart from any special revelation. 
Yet it is undeniable that the hold of Buddhism upon its millions of 
believers rests not upon the desire to enter Nirvana, but upon the preach- 
ing of such common truths as gentleness and kindness, and that the 
charm of Buddha’s personality is exactly that charm of gentleness and 
kindness. 

To this day I cannot find out the differences in teachings of the 
Mormon Church from the non-Mormon sects except the claim of a 
special Revelation to its founder. So many different priestcrafts are 
trying to sell their particular brands of religion to the populace that 
only the claim to some “special patented process” can help to make the 
sale convincing. And so we come upon the curious phenomenon in re- 
ligion that narrow-minded sectarianism is always a prominent feature 
of any religion of universal love. There is never a devout saint or be- 
hever in universal love who is not a “heretic” to some other believer, 
whether Christian or Buddhist. Tolstoi says somewhere that those who 
believe their religion is greater than God will beUcve that their sect is 
greater than their religion, and end up by believing that they are greater 
than their sect. 

357 


BUDDHISM 


358 

Consonant with my bias for Chinese sources, I have selected here 
the famous “Sermon at Benares” from The FoSho-Htng-Tsan-Kmg, 
a Life of Buddha by Asvaghosha, translated from the Sanskrit into 
Chinese by Dharmaraksha in a.d. 420 and from Chinese into English 
by Samuel Beal. This emphasizes the Middle Way, between extreme 
indulgence and extreme asceticism, with some sane comment on the 
wholesome mind in a wholesome body. It also contains a summary in bare 
outline of the basic Buddhist teachings concerning the* “eightfold path,” 
the existence of suffering, the cause of suffering, and the escape from 
suffering. The “Sermon on Abuse,” which teaches requiting not evil with 
evil,^ is taken from the Sutra of Forty-two Sections, probably the earliest 
Buddhist scripture to be translated into Chinese, soon after a.d. 67. Both 
are reproduced as edited or revised by Dr. Paul Cams. Finally I include 
the “Fire Sermon,” from the Mahd-Vagga (translated by Henry Clarke 
Warren), referred to in T. S. Eliot’s Wasteland, because it breathes some- 
thing of the direct, impetuous fire of a prophet. But, as we shall see in the 
“Fire Sermon,” there is one thing in Buddhism which can never convince 
the truly modern man, and that is the doctrine of the aversion for the 
body, taught in this Sermon, as well as elsewhere. So long as any religion 
teaches other-worldlmess, I do not care whether it teaches a Heaven of 
Pearly Gates or a Nirvana. The body is not bad, that is all there is to it. 
The body is transient, but it is not bad. It goes through old age and 
death, but it is not bad. Our passions must be brought under control, but 
they are not bad in themselves. Our sense impressions are mere illusions, 
but they are not bad. This is the feeling of the modern man about the 
truth of the body. 

^ See also the parable of the Patient Elephant, Gospel of Buddha, p. 215, and the Dhamma- 
pada. 



Three Sermons by Buddha 


THE SERMON AT BENARES 

On seeing their old teacher approach, the five bhikkhus agreed 
among themselves not to salute him, nor to address him as a master, 
but by his name only. 'Tor,” so they said, “he has broken his vow and 
has abandoned holiness. He is no bhikkhu but Gotama, and Gotama has 
become a man who lives in abundance and indulges in the pleasures 
of worldliness.” 

But when the Blessed One approached in a dignified manner, they 
involuntarily rose from their seats and greeted him in spite of their 
resolution. Still they called him by his name and addressed him as 
“friend Gotama.” 

When they had thus received the Blessed One, he said: “Do not call 
the Tathagata by his name nor address him as ‘friend,’ for he is the 
Buddha, the Holy One. The Buddha looks with a kind heart equally 
on all living beings, and they therefore call him ‘Father.’ To disrespect 
a father is wrong; to despise him, is wicked. 

“The Tathagata,” the Buddha continued, “does not seek salvation in 
austerities, but neither does he for that reason indulge in worldly 
pleasures, nor live in abundance. The Tathagata has found the middle 
path. 

“There are two extremes, O bhikkhus, which the man who has given 
up the world ought not to follow — ^the habitual practice, on the one 
hand, of self-indulgence which is unworthy, vain and fit only for the 
worldly-minded — and the habitual practice, on the other hand, of self- 
mortification, which is painful, useless and unprofitable. 

“Neither abstinence from fish or flesh, nor going naked, nor shaving 
the head, nor wearing matted hair, nor dressing in a rough garment, 

359 


BUDDHISM 


360 

nor covering oneself with dirt, nor sacrificing to Agni, will cleanse a 
man who is not free from delusions. 

“Reading the Vedas, making offerings to priests, or sacrifices to the 
gods, self-mortification by heat or cold, and many such penances per- 
formed for the sake of immortality, these do not cleanse the man who 
is not free from delusions. 

“Anger, drunkenness, obstinacy, bigotry, deception, envy, self-praise, 
disparaging others, superciliousness and evil intentions constitute un- 
cleanness; not verily the eating of flesh. 

“A middle path, O bhikkhus, avoiding the two extremes, has been dis- 
covered by the Tathagata — a path which opens the eyes, and bestows 
understanding, which leads to peace of mind, to the higher wisdom, to 
full enhghtenment, to Nirvana! 

“What is that middle path, O bhikkhus, avoiding these two extremes, 
discovered by the Tathagata — ^that path which opens the eyes, and be- 
stows understanding, which leads to peace of mind, to the higher 
wisdom, to full enlightenment, to Nirvana? 

“Let me teach you, O bhikkhus, the middle path, which keeps aloof 
from both extremes. By suffering, the emaciated devotee produces con- 
fusion and sickly thoughts in his mind. Mortification is not conducive 
even to worldly knowledge; how much less to a triumph over the senses! 

“He who fills his lamp with water will not dispel the darkness, and 
he who tries to light a fire with rotten wood will fail. And how can 
any one be free from self by leading a wretched life, if he does not suc- 
ceed in quenching the fires of lust, if he still hankers after either worldly 
or heavenly pleasures. But he in whom self has become extinct is free 
from lust; he will desire neither worldly nor heavenly pleasures, and 
the satisfaction of his natural wants will not defile him. However, let 
him be moderate, let him eat and drink according to the needs of the 

“Sensuality is enervating; the self-indulgent man is a slave to his 
passions, and pleasure-seeking is degrading and vulgar. 

‘ “But to satisfy the necessities of life is not evil. To keep the body in 
good health is a duty, for otherwise we shall not be able to trim the 
lamp of wisdom, and keep our mind strong and clear. Water surrounds 
the lotus-flower, but does not wet its petals. 

“This is the middle path, O bhikkhus, that keeps aloof from both 
extremes.” 

And' the Blessed One spoke kindly to his disciples, pitying them for 




THREE SERMONS BY BUDDHA 


361 

their errors, and pointing out the uselessness of their endeavors, and 
the ice of ill-will that chilled their hearts melted away under the gentle 
warmth of the Master’s persuasion. 

Now the Blessed One set the wheel of the most excellent law rolling, 
and he began to preach to the five bhikkhus, opening to them the gate 
of immortality, and showing them the bliss of Nirvana. 

The Buddha said: 

“The spokes of the wheel are the rules of pure conduct: justice is 
the uniformity of their length; wisdom is the tire; modesty and thought- 
fulness are the hub in which the immovable axle of truth is fixed. 

“He who recognizes the existence of suffering, its cause, its remedy, 
and its cessation has fathomed the four noble truths. He will walk in 
the right path. 

“Right views will be the torch to light his way. Right aspirations will 
be his guide. Right speech will be his dwelling-place on the road. His 
gait will be straight, for it is right behavior. His refreshments will be 
the right way of earning his livelihood. Right efforts will be his steps: 
right thoughts his breath; and right contemplation will give him the 
peace that follows in his footprints. 

“Now, this, O bhikkhus, is the noble truth concerning suffering: 

“Birth is attended with pain, decay is painful, disease is painful, death 
is painful. Union with the unpleasant is painful, painful is separation 
from the pleasant; and any craving that is unsatisfied, that too is pain- 
ful. In brief, bodily conditions which spring from attachment are 
painful. 

“This, then, O bhikkhus, is the noble truth concerning suffering. 

“Now this, O bhikkhus, is the noble truth concerning the origin of 
suffering: 

“Verily, it is that craving which causes the renewal of existence, ac- 
companied by sensual delight, seeking satisfaction now here, now there, 
the craving for the gratification of the passions, the craving for a future 
life, and the craving for happiness in this life. 

“This, then, O bhikkhus, is the noble truth concerning the origin of 
suffering. 

“Now this, O bhikkhus, is the noble truth concerning the destruction 
of suffering: 

“Verily, it is the destruction, in which no passion remains, of this 
very thirst; it is the laying aside of, the being free from, the dwelling no 
longer upon this thirst. 



BUDDHISM 


362 

“This, then, O bhikkhus, is the noble truth concerning the destruc- 
don of suffering. 

‘‘Now this, O bhikkhus, is the noble truth concerning the way which 
leads to the destruction of sorrow. Verily! it is this noble eightfold path; 
that is to say: 

“Right views; right aspirations; right speech; right behavior; right 
livelihood; right effort; right thoughts; and right contemplation. 

“This, then, O bhikkhus, is the noble truth concerning the destruc- 
tion of sorrow. 

“By the practice of lovingkindness I have attained liberation of heart, 
and thus I am assured that I shall never return in renewed births. I have 
even now attained Nirvana.” 

And when the Blessed One had thus set the royal chariot wheel of 
truth rolling onward, a rapture thrilled through all the universes. 

The devas left their heavenly abodes to listen to the sweetness of the 
truth; the saints that had parted from life crowded around the great 
teacher to receive the glad tidings; even the animals of the earth felt the 
bliss that rested upon the words of the Tathagata: and all the creatures of 
the host of sentient beings, gods, men, and beasts, hearing the message 
of deliverance, received and understood it in their own language. 

And when the doctrine was propounded, the venerable Kondanna, 
the oldest one among the five bhikkhus, discerned the truth with his 
mental eye, and he said: “Truly, O Buddha, our Lord, thou hast found 
the truth!” Then the other bhikkhus too, joined him and exclaimed: 
“Truly, thou art the Buddha, thou hast found the truth.” 

And the devas and saints and all the good spirits of the departed gen- 
erations that had listened to the sermon of the Tathagata, joyfully re- 
ceived the doctrine and shouted: “Truly, the Blessed One has founded 
the kingdom of righteousness. The Blessed One has moved the earth; 
he has set the wheel of Truth rolling, which by no one in the universe, 
be he god or man, can ever be turned back. The kingdom of Truth will 
be preached upon earth; it will spread; and righteousness, good-will, and 
peace will reign among mankind.” 

THE SERMON ON ABUSE 

And the Blessed One observed the ways of society and noticed how 
much misery came from malignity and foolish offences done only to 
gratify vanity and self-seeking pride. 



THREE SERMONS BY BUDDHA 


363 

And the Buddha said : “I£ a man foolishly does me wrong, I will re- 
turn to him the protection of my ungrudging love; the more evil comes 
from him, the more good shall go from me; the fragrance of goodness 
always comes to me, and the harmful air of evil goes to him.” 

A foolish man learning that the Buddha observed the principle of 
great love which commends the return of good for evil, came and abused 
him. The Buddha was silent, pitying his folly. 

When the man had finished his abuse, the Buddha asked him, say- 
ing: “Son, if a man declined to accept a present made to him, to whom 
would it belong^” And he answered: “In that case it would belong to 
the man who offered it.” 

“My son,” said the Buddha, “thou hast railed at me, but I decline to 
accept thy abuse, and request thee to keep it thyself. Will it not be a 
source of misery to thee? As the echo belongs to the sound, and the 
shadow to the substance, so misery will overtake the evil-doer without 
fail.” 

The abuser made no reply, and Buddha continued: 

“A wicked man who reproaches a virtuous one is like one who looks 
up and spits at heaven; the spittle soils not the heaven, but comes back 
and defiles his own person. 

“The slanderer is like one who flings dust at another when the wind 
is contrary; the dust does but return on him who threw it. The virtuous 
man cannot be hurt and the misery that the other would inflict comes 
back on himself.” 

The abuser went away ashamed, but he came again and took refuge 
in the Buddha, the Dharma, and the Sangha.^ 

THE FIRE SERMON 

Then the Blessed One, having dwelt in Uruvela as long as he wished, 
proceeded on his wanderings in the direction of Gaya Head, accom- 
panied by a great congregation of priests, a thousand in number, who 
had all of them aforetime been monks with matted hair. And there in 
Gaya Head, the Blessed One dwelt, together with the thousand priests. 

And there the Blessed One addressed the priests: 

“All things, O priests, are on fire. And what, O priests, are all these 
things which are on fire? 

^ Dharma, the Law of the Path of Buddhist teachings; Sangha, the Buddhist Church. ThcsCj 
>ivith Buddha, constitute the “three refuges,” 



BUDDHISM 


364 

“The eye, O priests, is on fire; forms are on fire; eye-consciousness is 
on fire; impressions received by the eye are on fire; and whatever sensa- 
tion, pleasant or unpleasant, or indifferent, originates in dependence on 
impressions received by the fire, that also is on fire. 

“And with what are these on fire? 

“With the fire of passion, say I, with the fire of hatred, with the fire of 
infatuation; with birth, old age, death, sorrow, lamentation, misery, grief, 
and despair are they on fire. 

“The ear is on fire; sounds are on fire; . . . the nose is on fire; odors 
are on fire; . . . the tongue is on fire; tastes are on fire; . . . the body is on 
fire; things tangible are on fire; . . . the mind is on fire; ideas are on 
fire; . . . mind-consciousness is on fire; impressions received by the mind 
are on fire; and whatever sensation, pleasant or unpleasant, or indifferent, 
originates in dependence on impressions received by the mind, that also 
is on fire. 

“And with what are these on fire? 

“With the fire of passion, say I, with the fire of hatred, with the fire of 
infatuation; with birth, old age, death, sorrow, lamentation, misery, 
grief, and despair are they on fire. 

“Perceiving this, O priests, the learned and noble disciple conceives an 
aversion for the eye, conceives an aversion for forms, conceives an aver- 
sion for eye-consciousness, conceives an aversion for impressions received 
by the eye; and whatever sensation, pleasant or unpleasant, or indifferent, 
originates in dependence on impressions received by the eye, for that also 
he conceives an aversion. Conceives an aversion for the ear, conceives an 
aversion for sounds . . • conceives an aversion for the nose, conceives an 
aversion for odors . . . conceives an aversion for the tongue, conceives 
an aversion for tastes , . . conceives an aversion for the body, conceives 
an aversion for things tangible . . . conceives an aversion for the mind, 
conceives an aversion for-ideas, conceives an aversion for mind-conscious- 
ness, conceives an aversion for the impressions received by the mind; and 
whatever sensation, pleasant or unpleasant, or indifferent, originates in 
dependence on impressions received by the mind, for this also he con- 
ceives an aversion. And in conceiving this aversion, he becomes divested 
of passion, and by the absence of passion he becomes free, and when he is 
free, he becomes aware that he is free; and he knows that rebirth is ex- 
hausted, that he has lived the holy life, that he has done what behooved 
him to do, and that he is no morp for tins world ” 



MHIMlilllilllliillillMM 


Some Buddhist Parables and 


Legends 


INTRODUCTION 

That Aesop’s fables originated from India/ is proved by the v^hole 
character of Hindu literature, in v^hich the instinct for the fable abounds. 
The Panchatantra, the Hitopadesa, the Buddhist ]dta\a (fables and 
stories of Buddhist previous lives, technically called “birth-stories,” in 
vv^hich Buddha was born as a snake, or an elephant, etc.), and Buddha- 
ghosha’s Commentary on the Dhammapada “ all attest to this truth. In 
Buddhaghosha’s Commentary, a story, or sometimes several stones, are 
told to illustrate each of the 423 ethical epigrams of the Dhammapada, 
with which the story always ends in Aesop fashion. 

In the following selections may be found one of the best wedding ser- 
mons and one of the best funeral sermons I have ever come across. The 
story of Kisd Gotami, which tells a great truth in a simple story, is one 
of the best in the whole Buddhist literature, and its introduction trans- 
ports us to the magic world of the Arabian Nights, Its subject is none 
other than Death. 

The Marriage Feast in Jambunada illustrates many striking parallels 
between the Buddhist and Christian Gospels, as also does the following 
story of Following the Master over the Stream. The first is taken from 
the Chinese Life of Buddha, Fo Pen Hsing Chi Ching, tr. by Samuel 
Beal, while the second is taken from the Chinese Dhammapada, Texts 

^ See Introduction to Panchatantra. 

® Translated by E. W. Burlingame, “Buddhist Legends,** Harvard Oriental Series, Vols. 28, 
29 & 30. Also Buddhaghosha* s Parables, translated by T. Rogers, London, 1870. 


365 


BUDDHISM 


366 

from the Buddhist Canon, tr. by Beal The above three stories are repro- 
duced as arranged by Dr. Paul Carus m The Gospel of Buddha (Open 
Court). For another striking parallel, see the story of the lost son who 
returned to his father’s house as a common laborer, in Gospel of Buddha, 
by Paul Carus, p. 182. 

The Greedy Mon\ from the Dhammapada Commentary illustrates 
the same technique of enclosing a tale within a tale, characteristic of the 
Panchatantra, The story of Ocean^of -Beauty, from the same collection, 
contains some remarks about womanhood which shows the New York 
lady in an apartment flat has nothing to teach the Hindu women in 
methods of attracting a man. The translation is by Eugene Watson Bur- 
lingame. 



Some Buddhist Parables and 
Legends 


KISA GOTAMI 

There was a rich man who found his gold suddenly transformed into 
ashes; and he took to his bed and refused all food. A friend, hearing of his 
sickness, visited the rich man and learned the cause of his grief. And the 
friend said : “Thou didst not make good use of thy wealth. When thou 
didst hoard it up it was not better than ashes. Now heed my advice. 
Spread mats in the bazaar; pile up these ashes, and pretend to trade with 
them.” 

The rich man did as his friend had told him, and when his neighbors 
asked him, “Why sellest thou ashes he said: “I offer my goods for 
sale.” 

After some time a young girl, named Kisa GotamI, an orphan and very 
poor, passed by, and seeing the rich man in the bazaar, said: “My lord, 
why pilest thou thus up gold and silver for sale.” 

And the rich man said: “Wilt thou please hand me that gold and 
silver And Kisa GotamI took up a handful of ashes, and lo! they 
changed back into gold. 

Considering that Klisa GotamI had the mental eye of spiritual knowl- 
edge and saw the real worth of things, the rich man gave her in marriage 
to his son, and he said: “With many, gold is no better than ashes, but 
with Kisa GotamI ashes become pure gold.” 

And Kisa GotamI had an only son, and he died. In her grief she car- 
ried the dead child to all her neighbors, asking them for medicine, and 
the people said: “She has lost her senses. The boy is dead.” 


367 


BUDDHISM 


368 

At length Kisa GotamI met a man who replied to her request : “I cannot 
give thee medicine for thy child, but I know a physician who can.” 

And the girl said: “Pray tell me, sir; who is it?” And the man replied: 
“Go to Sakyamuni, the Buddha.” 

Kisa GotamI repaired to the Buddha and cried : “Lord and Master, give 
me the medicine that will cure my boy.” 

The Buddha answered : “I want a handful of mustard-seed.” And when 
the girl in her joy promised to procure it, the Buddha added: “The mus- 
tard-seed must be taken from a house where no one has lost a child, hus- 
band, parent, or friend.” 

Poor Kisa GotamI now went from house to house, and the people 
pitied her and said: “Here is mustard-seed; take it!” But when she asked, 
“Did a son or daughter, a father or mother, die in your family?” they 
answered her: “Alas! the living are few, but the dead are many. Do not 
remind us of our deepest grief.” And there was no house but some be- 
loved one had died in it. 

Kisa GotamI became weary and hopeless, and sat down at the way- 
side, watching the lights of the city, as they flickered up and were ex- 
tinguished again. At last the darkness of the night reigned everywhere. 
And she considered the fate of men, that their lives flicker up and are ex- 
tinguished. And she thought to herself: “How selfish am I in my grief! 
Death is common to all; yet in this valley of desolation there is a path 
that leads him to immortality who has surrendered all selfishness.” 

‘ Putting away the selfishness of her affection for her child, Kisa GotamI 
had the dead body buried in the forest. Returning to the Buddha, she 
took refuge in him and found comfort in the Dharma, which is a balm 
that will soothe all the pains of our troubled hearts. 

The Buddha said: 

“The life of mortals in this world is troubled and brief and combined 
with pain. For there is not any means by which those that have been 
born can avoid dying; after reaching old age there is death; of such a 
nature are living beings. 

“As ripe fruits are early in danger of falling, so mortals when born are 
always in danger of death. 

“As all earthen vessels made by the potter end in being broken, so is 
the life of mortals. 

“Both young and adult, both those who are fools and those who are 
wise, all fall into the power of death; all are subject to death. 



PARABLES AND LEGENDS 


369 

“Of those who, overcome by death, depart from life, a father cannot 
save his son, nor kinsmen their relations. 

“Mark! while relatives are looking on and lamenting deeply, one by 
one mortals are carried off, like an ox that is led to the slaughter. 

“So the world is afflicted with death and decay, therefore the wise do 
not grieve, knowing the terms of the world. 

“In whatever manner people think a thing will come to pass, it is often 
different when it happens, and great is the disappointment; see, such are 
the terms of the world. 

“Not from weeping nor from grieving will any one obtain peace of 
mind; on the contrary, his pain will be the greater and his body will 
suffer. He will make himself sick and pale, yet the dead are not saved by 
his lamentation. 

“People pass away, and their fate after death will be according to their 
deeds. 

“If a man live a hundred years, or even more, he will at last be separated 
from the company of his relatives, and leave the life of this world. 

“He who seeks peace should draw out the arrow of lamentation, and 
complaint, and grief. 

“He who has drawn out the arrow and has become composed will 
obtain peace of mind; he who has overcome all sorrow will become free 
from sorrow, and be blessed.” 

THE MARRIAGE-FEAST IN JAMBUNADA 

There was a man in Jambunada who was to be married the next day, and 
he thought, “Would that the Buddha, the Blessed One, might be present 
at the wedding.” 

And the Blessed One passed by his house and met him, and when he 
read the silent wish in the heart of the bridegroom, he consented to 
enter.' 

When the Holy One appeared with the retinue of his many bhikkhus, 
the host whose means were limited received them as best he could, saying: 
“Eat, my Lord, and all thy congregation, according to your desire.” 

While the holy men ate, the meats and drinks remained undiminished, 
and the host thought to himself: “How wondrous is this! I should have 
had plenty for all my relatives and friends. Would that I had invited 
them all.” 

When this thought was in the host’s mind, all his relatives and friends 



370 BUDDHISM 

entered the house; and although the hall in the house was small there 
was room in it for all of them. They sat down at the table and ate, and 
there was more than enough for all of them. 

The Blessed One was pleased to see so many guests full of good cheer 
and he quickened them and gladdened them with words of truth, pro- 
claiming the bliss of righteousness : 

‘The greatest happiness which a mortal man can imagine is the bond 
of marriage that ties together two loving hearts. But there is a greater 
happiness still: it is the embrace of truth. Death will separate husband 
and wife, but death will never affect him who has espoused the truth. 

“Therefore be married unto the truth and live with the truth in holy 
wedlock. The husband who loves his wife and desires for a union that 
shall be everlasting must be faithful to her so as to be like truth itself, and 
she will rely upon him and revere him and minister unto him. And the 
wife who loves her husband and desires a union that shall be everlasting 
must be faithful to him so as to be like truth itself; and he will place his 
trust in her, he will provide for her. Verily, I say unto you, their children 
will become like unto their parents and will bear witness to their happi- 
ness. 

“Let no man be single, let every one be wedded in holy love to the 
truth. And when Mara, the destroyer, comes to separate the visible forms 
of your being, you will continue to live in the truth, and you will partake 
of the life everlasting, for the truth is immortal.” 

There was no one among the guests but was strengthened in his 
spiritual life, and recognized the sweetness of a life of righteousness; and 
they took refuge in the Buddha, the Dharma, and the Sangha. 

FOLLOWING THE MASTER OVER THE STREAM 

South of Savatthi is a great river, on the banks of which lay a hamlet of 
five hundred houses. Thinking of the salvation of the people, the World- 
honored One resolved to go to the village and preach the doctrine. Hav- 
ing come to the riverside he sat down beneath a tree, and the villagers see- 
ing the glory of his appearance approached him with reverence; but 
when he began to preach, they believed him not. 

When the world-honored Buddha had left Savatthi, Sariputta felt a de- 
sire to see the Ix)rd and to hear him preach. Coming to the river where 
the water was deep and the current strong, he said to himself: “This 
stream shall not prevent me. I shall go and see the Blessed One,” and he 



PARABLES ANt> LEGENDS 


371 

Stepped upon the water which was as firm under his feet as a slab of 
granite. 

When he arrived at a place in the middle of the stream where the waves 
were high, Sariputta’s heart gave way, and he began to sink. But rousing 
his faith and renewing his mental effort, he proceeded as before and 
reached the other bank. 

The people of the village were astonished to see Sariputta, and they 
asked how he could cross the stream where there was neither a bridge nor 
a ferry. 

And Sariputta replied: “I lived in ignorance until I heard the voice of 
the Buddha. As I was anxious to hear the doctrine of salvation, I crossed 
the river and I walked over its troubled waters because I had faith. Faith, 
nothing else, enabled me to do so, and now I am here in the bliss of the 
Master’s presency.” 

The World-honored One added: “Sariputta, thou hast spoken well. 
Faith like thine alone can save the world from the yawning gulf of mi- 
gration and enable men to walk dryshod to the other shore.” 

And the Blessed One urged to the villagers the necessity of ever advanc- 
ing in the conquest of sorrow and of casting off all shackles so as to cross 
the river of worldhness and attain deliverance from death. 

Hearing the words of the Tathagata, the villagers were filled with joy 
and believing in the doctrines of the Blessed One embraced the five rules 
and took refuge in his name. 

THE GREEDY MONK 

The story goes that the Elder, who was skilled to teach the Law, after 
listening to a discourse on the subject of being satisfied with but little, 
accepted a large number of robes with which several monks who had 
taken upon themselves the Pure Practices honored him, and besides took 
all the utensils which they had left and carried them off with him. As 
the season of the rains was near at hand, he went off into the country. He 
stopped at a certain monastery to preach the Law, and the novices and 
pirobationers liked the way he talked so well that they said to him, “Spend 
the rainy season here. Reverend Sir.” “What allowance is made to a 
monk who spends the season of rains here?” asked the Elder. “A single 
cloak,” was the reply. The Elder left his shoes there and went to the next 
monastery. When he reached the second monastery, he asked the same 
question, “What allowance is made here?” “Two cloaks,” was Ae reply. 



BUDDHISM 


372 

There he left his walking stick. Then he went to the third monastery and 
asked the same question, “What is the allowance made here?” “Three 
cloaks,” was the reply. There he left his water-pot. 

Then he went to the fourth monastery and asked the same question, 
“What is the allowance made here?” “Four cloaks,” was the reply. “Very 
good,” said the Elder, “I will take my residence here”; and there he went 
into residence. And he preached the Law to the laymen and the monks 
who resided there so well that they honored him with a great number of 
garments and robes. When he had completed residence, he sent a message 
to all the other monasteries, saying, “I left my requisites behind me, and 
must have whatever is required for residence; pray send them to me.” 
When he gathered all of his possessions together, he put them in a cart 
and continued his journey. 

Now at a certain monastery two young monks who had received two 
cloaks and a single blanket found it impossible to make a division satis- 
factory to both of them, and therefore settled themselves beside the road 
and began to quarrel, saying, “You may have two cloaks, but the blanket 
belongs to me.” When they saw the Elder approaching, they said, “Rev- 
erend Sir, you make a fair decision and give us what you think fit.” “Will 
you abide by my decision?” “Yes indeed; we will abide by your de- 
cision,” “Very good, then.” So the Elder divided the two cloaks between 
the two monks; then he said to them, “This blanket should be worn only 
by us who preach the law”; and when he had thus said, he shouldered 
the costly blanket and went off with it. 

Disgusted and disappointed, the two young monks went to the Teacher 
and reported the whole occurrence to him. Said the Teacher, “This is not 
the first time he has taken what belongs to you and left you disgusted and 
disappointed; he did the same thing also in a previous state of existence ” 
And he related the following: 

The Otters and the Jac\al 

Once upon a time, long, long ago, two otters named Anutiracari and 
Gambhiracari, caught a big redfish and fell to quarreling over it, saying, 
“The head belongs to me; you may have the tail.” Unable to effect a 
division satisfactory to both of them, catching sight of a certain jackal, 
dicy appealed to him for a decision, saying, “Uncle, you make such a 
division of this fish as you think proper and render an award.” Said the 
iackal, I have been appointed judge by the king, and am obliged to sit 
in court for hours at a time; I came out here merely to stretch my legs; I 



PARABLES AND LEGENDS 


373 

have no time now for such business.” “Uncle, don’t say that, make a 
division and render an award.” “Will you abide by my decision.?” “Yes 
indeed, uncle, we will abide by your decision.” “Very good, then,” said 
the jackal. The jackal cut the head and laid that aside, then cut off the tail 
and laid that aside. When he had done so, he said to them, “Friends, that 
one of you who runs along the bank (Anutiracari) shall have the tail, 
and that one of you who runs in deep water (Gambhiracarl) shall have 
the head; as for this middle portion, however, this shall be mine, inas- 
much as I am justice.” And to make them see the matter in better light, 
he pronounced the following Stanza, 

Anutiracari shall have the tail, and Gambhiracarl shall have the head; ' 
But as for this middle portion, it shall belong to the justice. 

Having pronounced this Stanza, the jackal picked up the middle por- 
tion of the fish and went off with it. As for the otters, they were filled 
with disgust and disappointment, and stood and eyed the jackal as he 
went away. 

When the Teacher finished this Story of the Past, he said, “And thus 
it was that in times long past this Elder filled you with disgust and dis- 
appointment.” Then the Teacher consoled these monks and rebuked 
Upananda, saying, “Monks, a man who admonishes others should first 
direct himself in the way he should go.” And when he had thus spoken, 
he pronounced the following Stanza, 

A man should first direct himself in the way he should go. 

Only then should he instruct others; a wise man will do so and not grow 
weary.^ 

A COURTESAN TEMPTS THE MONK OCEAN-OF-BEAUTY 

At Savatthi, we are told, in a great household possessing forty crores ^ of 
treasure, was reborn a certain youth of station named Ocean-of-Beauty, 
Sundarasamudda Kumara. One day after daybreak, seeing a great com- 
pany of people carrying perfumes and garlands in their hands, going to 
Jetavana to hear the Law, he asked, “Where are you going.?” “To the 
teacher to hear the Law,” they replied. “I will go too,” said he, and accom- 
panying them, sat down on the outer circle of the congregation. The 

This verse is from the Dhammapada, of which the story is told as a “commentary.” 

“Tea mdUons. 



BUDDHISM 


374 

Teacher, knowing the thoughts of his heart, preached the Law in orderly 
sequence. Thought Ocean-of-Beauty, “It is impossible to live the life of 
a householder and at the same time live the Life of Holiness, whereof a 
polished shell is the image and likeness.” 

The Teacher’s discourse made him eager to retire from the world. 
Therefore, as the congregation departed, he asked the Teacher to admit 
him to the order. Said the Teacher, “The Tathagatas admit no one to the 
Order who has not obtained permission of his mother and father.” So 
Ocean-of-Beauty went home, and so like youth Ratthapala and others, 
by dint of great effort, prevailed upon his mother and father to give him 
permission to enter the Order. Having obtained their permission, he re- 
tired from the world and was admitted to the Order by the Teacher. 
Subsequently he made his full profession as member of the Order. Then 
he thought to himself, “What is the use of my living here?” So departing 
from Jetavana, he went to Rajagaha and spent his time going his rounds 
for alms. 

Now one day there was a festival at Savatthi, and on that day Ocean- 
of-Beauty’s mother and father saw their son’s playfellows diverting 
themselves amid great splendor and magnificence. Thereupon they began 
to weep and lament, saying, “This is past our son’s getting now.” At that 
moment a certain courtesan came to the house, and seeing his mother as 
she sat weeping, asked her, “Mother, why do you weep?” “I keep think- 
ing of my son; that is why I weep.” “But, Mother, where is he ?” “Among 
the monks, retired from the world.” “Would it not be proper to make him 
return to the world?” “Yes, indeed; but he doesn’t wish to do that. He 
has left Savatthi and gone to Rajagaha.” “Suppose I were to succeed in 
making him return to the world; what would you do for me?” “We 
would make you mistress of all the wealth of this household.” “Very 
well, give me my expenses.” And taking the amount of her expenses, she 
surrounded herself with a large retinue and went to Rajagaha. 

Taking note of the street in which the Elder was accustomed to make 
his rounds for aims, she obtained a house in this street and took her abode 
therein. And early in the morning she prepared choice food, and when 
the Elder entered the street to make his round for alms, she gave him 
alms. After a few days had passed, she said to him, “Reverend Sir, sit 
down right here and eat your meal.” So saying, she offered to take the 
bowl, and the Elder yielded his bowl willingly. Then she served him 
with choice food, and having so done, said to him, “Reverend Sir, right 
here is the most delightful spot to which you could come on your rounds 



PARABLES AND LEGENDS 3^5 

for alms.” For a few days she enticed him to sit on the veranda, and there 
provided him with choice food. 

Next she won the favor of some small boys by treating them with 
cakes, and said to them, “See here, boys; when the Elder comes to the 
house, you come too. And when you come, kick up the dust. And even if 
I tell you to stop, pay no attention to what I say.” So on the following 
day, while the Elder was eating his meal, the boys came to the house and 
kicked up the dust. And when the mistress of the house told them to stop, 
they paid no attention to what she said. On the next day she said to the 
Elder, “Reverend Sir, these boys keep coming here and kicking up the 
dust, and, even when I tell them to stop, pay no attention to what I say; 
sit inside of the house.” For a few days she seated him inside of the house 
and there provided him with choice food. Then she treated the boys again 
and said to them, “Boys, while the Elder is eating his meal, make a loud 
noise. And even if I tell you to stop, pay no attention to what I say.” The 
boys did as they were told. 

On the following day she said to the Elder, “Reverend Sir, the noise in 
this place is unbearable. In spite of all I do to stop them, these boys pay 
no attention to what I say; sit on the upper floor of the mansion.” The 
Elder gave his consent. She then climbed to the top of the mansion, mak- 
ing the Elder precede her, and closing the door after her. Now the Elder 
had taken upon himself the strict obligation to receive alms only by 
making an unbroken round from door to door. But in spite of this fact, 
so firmly bound was he by the bonds of the craving of taste that he com- 
plied with her suggestion and climbed to the topmost floor of the seven- 
storied mansion. The woman provided the Elder with a seat. 

In forty ways, friend Punnamukha, does a woman accost a man: She 
yawns, she bows down, she makes amorous gestures, she pretends to be 
abashed, she rubs the nails of one hand or foot with the nails of the other 
hand or foot, she places one foot on another foot, she scratches on the 
ground with .a stick. She causes her boy to leap up, she causes her boy to 
leap down, she dallies with her boy and makes him dally with her, she 
kisses him and makes him kiss her, she eats food and makes him eat food, 
she gives and begs for gifts, she imitates whatever he does. She talks in a 
loud tone, she talks in a low tone; she talks as in public, she talks as in 
private. While dancing, singing, playing musical instruments, weeping, 
making amorous gestures, adorning herself, she laughs and looks. She 
sways her hips, she jiggles her waist-gear, uncovers her thigh, covers her 
thigh, displays her breast, displays her armpit, and displays her navel. 



BUDDHISM 


376 

She buries the pupils of her eyes, lifts her eyebrows, scratches her lips, and 
dangles her tongue. She takes off her loin-cloth, puts on her loin-cloth, 
takes off her turban, and puts on her turban. 

Thus did that woman employ all the devices of a woman, all the graces 
of a woman. And standing before the Elder, she recited the following 
Stanza, 

Dyed in lac and clad in slippers are the feet of a harlot. 

You are young and you are mine; I am young and I am yours. 

We will both retire from the world later on, and lean on a staff. 

Thought the Elder, “Alas! I have committed a grievous sin! I did not 
consider what I was doing.” And he was deeply moved. At that moment 
the Teacher, although seated within Jetavana, forty-five leagues distant, 
saw the whole affair and smiled. Elder Ananda asked him, “Reverend 
Sir, what is the cause, what is the occasion of your smiling?” “Ananda, in 
the city of Rajagaha, on the topmost floor of a seven-storied palace, there 
is a battle on between the monk Ocean-of-Beauty and a harlot.” “Who is 
going to win, Reverend Sir, and who is going to lose?” The Teacher 
replied, “Ananda, Ocean-of-Beauty is going to win, and the harlot is 
going to lose.” Having thus proclaimed that the Elder would win the 
victory, the Teacher, remaining seated where he was, sent forth a lumi- 
nous image of himself and said, “Monk, renounce both lusts and free 
yourself from desire.” So saying, he pronounced the following Stanza, 

Whoever in this world renounces lusts, whoever abandons the house life 
and retires from the world, 

Whoever has extinguished the essence of lust, such a man I call a Brahman.^ 
^ This verse is in the Dhammapada, of which the story is told as a “commentary.” 



The Light of Asia 

(LIFE OF BUDDHA) 


INTRODUCTION 

India produced too much religion, China too little. A dribble o£ this re- 
ligious spirit overflowed from India and innudated the whole Eastern 
Asia. One cannot help being curious about the fact that the Hindus have 
rejected Buddhism as the Jews have rejected Christianity. One should 
have thought that a nation would have embraced teachings which seem 
to other nations their most important contribution to the world and the 
highest manifestation of their spirit. Yet this is not the case. The only 
clue I can find seems to lie in the fact that Jesus attacked the established 
priestcraft of His time, as Buddha rebelled against the teachings and the 
sacerdotalism of the Brahmans. That Buddhism represents a revolt 
against Brahmanism is especially clear in his conversation with the two 
Brahmans."^ He was the agnostic and the doubter regarding the Brahma 
and the Atman (universal and individual soul) of the Upanishads. It 
seems that the established priesthood was too strong for the revolutionary 
teachings, and the Brahmans felt an injured pride in the presence of 
Buddha, as the Pharisees and Sadducees felt an injured pride in the 
challenge of Jesus. Yet this cannot be the whole explanation. Why should 
not the Jews have felt the charm, beauty and the greatness of Jesus’s 
teachings, and why should not the Hindus have felt the charm, beauty 
and the greatness of Buddha.? Probably a better explanation is that 
Judaism in Judea and Brahmanism in India, in neither case to be de- 
spised as religious and ethical systems and both being still very vital to- 

Sacred Boo\s of the East, XI, pp. 157-202. Buddha was opposed to the priestcraft and 
preached direcdy to the people in thar spoken tongue instead of in the classical Sansknt 
of tho Brahman, 


377 



BUDDHISM 


378 

day,^ had older, truer and deeper roots in their racial consciousness, 
and that Buddhism and Christianity had those universal, idealistic 
qualities which detracted from their national character. If this is so, we 
may learn a lesson about the power of history and the strength of national 
beliefs. 

Whatever the explanation, the strength and power of Buddhism in 
Asia, excepting India, clearly lies m the Mahayana conception of Buddha 
as Savior of the world, his great compassion and gentleness and kindness, 
and his message of saving mankind and freeing it from the sorrows and 
sufferings of this world. These constitute the great driving power of 
world religions. 

In the study of Buddhism, we may take the poetic approach or the 
philosophic approach, through moral surrender or through intellectual 
belief. Sir Edwin Arnold’s famous life of Buddha, Light of Asia, gives 
the best poetic approach, while the selection from the Surangama, which 
follows, gives the best philosophic approach. 

There is a reason for reprinting the Light of Asia complete in this vol- 
ume, although it was written by an Englishman. This long poem ran to 
sixty editions in England and eighty editions in the United States in the 
course of a few years when it was published about a century ago, and sold 
hundreds of thousands of copies at a time when there were neither best- 
seller lists, nor the Book-of-the-Month Club. More curiously still, it was 
a greater success than the author’s later volume. Light of the World, de- 
picting the life of Jesus. Most Western readers of the elderly generation 
owe their impression of Buddha to this poem. This is easy to understand. 
While it raised Buddha to cosmic heights, it never lost the human interest 
of its story. This is essentially the story of St. Josaphat, borrowed from 
the Buddhist Labtavistara, who in the romance of Barlaatn and Josaphat, 
became a Christian prince who was touched by the sorrows of this world 
and renounced his palatial glories to become an ascetic. Thus Buddha 
became actually canonized as a Christian saint in the sixteenth century.® 
(For instances of Christian and Buddhist parallels see the section “Some 
Buddhist Fables and Legends.”) The influence must have been mutual, 
for while the Christian story of St. Josaphat was written in the eighth 
century a.d., the story of King Solomon dividing the child between two 

^ Witness Gandhi, Tagore, Kam'akrishna and Vivckenanda. 

“ See H. G Rawlmson’s article India in European Thought and Literature, in The Legacy 
of India, p, 26, 



THE LIGHT OF ASIA 


379 

mothers certainly antedated a similar story in the Buddhist Jatakas.^ 

While the poem does not present the metaphysical system on which 
Buddhism is based, and which fascinated the Chinese scholars, it gives 
a true popular picture of Buddha as it appears to the average believer. 
To put the reader into the state of moral surrender, with all its miracles, 
the author chose to put the story in the mouth of an Indian Buddhist, and 
elaborated a full tapestry of Indian jungles and cities with great artistic 
skill. The poem has one of the noblest themes of all poetry, the theme of 
human sorrows. The full title of the poem reads: “The Light of Asia, or 
the Great Renunciation, being the Life and Teaching of Gautama, Prince 
of India and Founder of Buddhism (as told by an Indian Buddhist), by 
Edwin Arnold, Companion of the Star of India, Officer of the Order of 
the Elephant of Siam, Third Class of the Imperial Order of the Medjideh, 
etc.” Sir Edwin Arnold also translated one story Nala and Damayanti 
from the Mahdbhdrata and wrote the very charming Indian Idylls (Bos- 
ton, 1883). 

Sir Edwin Arnold’s poem is based on the life of Buddha, the Buddha* 
Charitaf written by Asvaghosha, the great Mahayanist teacher, whom I 
regard as the St. Paul of Buddhism. He lived toward the end of the first 
century and was author of the famous Mahay ana Sraddhotpada, or “The 
Awakening of Faith,” translated into Chinese in the beginning of the 
fifth century. Roughly Buddhism was introduced into China at the be- 
ginning of the Christian era, and Buddhist texts were first translated in 
or soon after a.d. 67, while contact with Buddhist practices through 
Chinese Turkestan must have taken place as early as the time of the 
great Chinese Emperor, Han Wuti (140-85 b.c.), when several references 
were made to the subject. Concerning the important division into Maha- 
yana and Hinayana Buddhism, see the introduction to the selection, 
Surangama Sutra, 

There is a good translation of the life of Buddha from the introduction 
to the ]dta\a in Chapter One of Buddhism in Translations, by Henry 
Clarke Warren (in Harvard Oriental Series, vol. 3, and Harvard 
Classics) , 

^ Rhys Davids, Btiddhtst Birth-Stories, I, 13, 44. See also the Chinese version of the “Judg- 
ment between Two Mothers’* in the section “Chinese Tales.” 

^See English translation from the Sanskrit by E. B. Cowell, Sacred Books of the East, 
vol, 49. For the Chinese version, sec Fo Sho Bing Tsan King, which was translated by 
Dharmaraksha, and retranslated into English by Samuel Beal, Sacred Books of the East, 
vol. 19. 



The Light of Asia 

by Sir Edwin Arnold 


BOOK THE FIRST 

The Scripture of the Saviour of the World, 

Lord Buddha — Prince Siddartha styled on earth — 

In Earth and Heavens and Hells Incomparable, 

All-honoured , Wisest, Best, most Pitiful; 

The Teacher of Nirvana and the Law. 

Thus came he to be born again for men. 

Below the highest sphere four Regents sit 
Who rule our world; and under them are zones 
Nearer, but high, where sainthest spirits dead 
Wait thrice ten thousand years, then live again; 

And on Lord Buddha, waiting in that sky, 

Came for our sakes the five sure signs of birth. 

So that the Devas ^ knew the signs, and said 
“Buddha will go again to help the World ” 

“Yea!” spake He, “now I go to help the World 
This last of many times; for birth and death 
End hence for me and those who learn my Law. 

I will go down among the Sakyas,** 

Under the southward snows of Himalay, 

Where pious people live and a just King/’ 

^ Celestial spirits, 

® Name of a royal race in the northern frontiers of Magadha, hence Buddha’s title “Sakya- 
mum,” or the Sakya sage. 


THE LIGHT OF ASIA 


381 


That night the wife of King Suddhodana, 

Maya the Queen, asleep beside her Lord, 

Dreamed a strange dream; dreamed that a star from heaven— 
Splendid, six-rayed, m colour rosy-pearl, 

Whereof the token was an Elephant 
Six-tusked, and white as milk of Kamadhuk— 

Shot through the void; and, shining into her, 

Entered her womb upon the right. Awaked, 

Bliss beyond mortal mother’s filled her breast, 

And over half the earth a lovely light 
Forewent the morn. The strong hills shook; the waves 
Sank lulled; all flowers that blow by day came forth 
As ’twere high noon; down to the farthest hells 
Passed the Queen’s joy, as when warm sunshine thrills 
Wood-glooms to gold, and into all the deeps 
A tender whisper pierced. “Oh ye,” it said, 

“The dead that are to live, the live who die. 

Uprise, and hear, and hope! Buddha is come!” 

Whereat in Limbos numberless much peace 

Spread, and the world’s heart throbbed, and a wind blew 

With unknown freshness over lands and seas. 

And when the morning dawned, and this was told. 

The grey dream-readers said “The dream is good! 

The Crab is in conjunction with the Sun; 

The Queen shall bear a boy, a holy child 
Of wondrous wisdom, profiting all flesh, 

Who shall deliver men from ignorance. 

Or rule the world, if he will deign to rule.” 

In this mst was the holy Buddha born. 

Queen Maya stood at noon, her days fulfilled. 

Under a Paisa in the Palace-grounds, 

A stately trunk, straight as a temple-shaft, 

With crown of glossy leaves and fragrant blooms; 

And, knowing the time come— for all things knew — 

The conscious tree bent down its bows to make 
A bower about Queen Maya’s majesty; 

And Earth put forth a thousand sudden flowers 



BUDDHISM 


382 

To spread a couch; while, ready for the bath, 

The rock hard by gave out a limpid stream 
Of crystal flow. So brought she forth her child 
Pangless — he having on his perfect form 
The marks, thirty and two, of blessed birth; 

Of which the great news to the Palace came. 

But when they brought the painted palanquin 
To fetch him home, the bearers of the poles 
Were the four Regents of the Earth, come down 
From Mount Sumeru — they who write men’s deeds 
On brazen plates — the Angel of the East, 

Whose hosts are clad in silver robes, and bear 
Targets of pearl: the Angel of the South, 

Whose horsemen, the Kumbhandas, ride blue steeds, 
With sapphire shields: the Angel of the West, 

By Nagas followed, riding steeds blood-red. 

With coral shields: the Angel of the North, 

Environed by his Yakshas, all in gold. 

On yellow horses, bearing shields of gold. 

These, with their pomp invisible, came down 
And took the poles, in cast and outward garb 
Like bearers, yet most mighty gods; and gods 
Walked free with men that day, though men knew not: 
For Heaven was filled with gladness for Earth’s sake, 
Knowing Lord Buddha thus was come again. 

But King Suddhodana wist not of this; 

The portents troubled, till his dream-readers 
Augured a Prince of earthly dominance, 

A Chakravartin, such as rise to rule 

Once in each thousand years; seven gifts he has — 

The Chakra-ratna, disc divine; the gem; 

The horse, the Aswa-ratna, that proud steed 
Which tramps the clouds; a snow-white elephant, 

The Hasti-ratna, born to bear his King; 

The crafty Minister, the General 
Unconqucred, and the wife of peerless grace, 

The Istrl-ratna, lovelier than the Dawn. 

For which gifts looking with this wondrous boy. 



THE LIGHT OF ASIA 


383 


The King gave order that his town should keep 
High festival; therefore the ways were swept, 
Rose-odours sprinkled in the street, the trees 
Were hung with lamps and flags, while merry crowds 
Gaped on the sword-players and posturers, 

The jugglers, charmers, swingers, rope-walkers. 

The nautch-girls in their spangled skirts, and bells 
That chime light laughter round their restless feet; 

The masquers wrapped in skins of bear and deer. 

The tiger-tamers, wrestlers, quail-fighters, 

Beaters of drum and twanglers of the wire. 

Who made the people happy by command. 

Moreover, from afar came merchant-men. 

Bringing, on tidings of this birth, rich gifts 
In golden trays; goat-shawls, and nard, and jade, 
Turkises, “evening-sky” tint, woven webs— 

So fine twelve folds hide not a modest face — 
Waist-cloths sewn thick with pearls, and sandal-wood; 
Homage from tribute cities; so they called 
Their Prince Savarthasiddh, “All-Prospering,” 

Briefer, Siddartha."^ 

’Mongst the strangers came 
A grey-haired saint, Asita, one whose ears, 

Long closed to earthly things, caught heavenly sounds, 
And heard at prayer beneath his peepul-tree 
The Devas singing songs at Buddha’s birth. 

Wondrous in lore he was by age and fasts; 

Him, drawing nigh, seeming so reverend, 

The King saluted, and Queen Maya made 
To lay her babe before such holy feet; 

But when he saw the Prince the old man cried 
“Ah, Queen, not sol” and thereupon he touched 
Eight times the dust, laid his waste visage there. 

Saying, “O Babe! I worship! Thou art He! 

I see the rosy light, the foot-sole marks. 

The soft curled tendril of the Swastika,^ 

^ Buddha’s proper name, meaning “He who has reached the goal.” 

® A Buddhist emblem, still in use today. 



buddhism 


384 

The sacred primal signs thirty and two/ 

The eighty lesser tokens. Thou art Buddh, 

And thou wilt preach the Law and save all flesh 
Who learn the Law, though I shall never hear, 

Dying too soon, who lately longed to die; 

Howbeit I have seen Thee. Know, O King! 

This is that Blossom on our human tree 
Which opens once in many myriad years — 

But opened, fills the world with Wisdom’s scent 
And Love’s dropped honey; from thy royal root 
A Heavenly Lotus springs: Ah, happy House! 

Yet not all-happy, for a sword must pierce 

Thy bowels for this boy — whilst thou, sweet Queen! 

Dear to all gods and men for this great birth. 

Henceforth art grown too sacred for more woe; 

And life is woe, therefore in seven days 
Painless thou shalt attain the close of pain.” 

Which fell: for on the seventh evening 
Queen Maya smiling slept, and waked no more. 

Passing content to Trayastrinshas-Heaven, 

Where countless Devas worship her, and wait 
Attendant on that radiant Motherhead. 

But for the Babe they found a foster-nurse, 

Princess Mahaprajapati — ^her breast 
Nourished with noble milk the lips of Him 
Whose lips comfort the Worlds. 

When th’ eighth year passed, 
The careful King bethought to teach his son 
All that a Prince should learn, for still he shunned 
The too vast presage of those miracles, 

The glories and the sufferings of a Buddh. 

So, in full council of his Ministers, 

“Who is the wisest man, great sirs,” he asked, 

“To teach my Prince that which a Prince should know?” 
Whereto gave answer each with instant voice: 

“King! Viswamitra is the wisest one. 

The farthest-seen in Scriptures, and the best 
^ See list, Bible of the World, by R. O. Ballou, p. 242. 



THE LIGHT OF ASIA 


385 


In learning, and the manual arts, and all” 

Thus Viswamitra came and heard commands; 

And, on a day found fortunate, the Prince 
Took up his slate of ox^-red sandal-wood 
All-beautified by gems around the rim, 

And sprinkled smooth with dust of emery, 

These took he, and his wnting-stick, and stood 
With eyes bent down before the Sage, who said, 
“Child, write this Scripture,” speaking slow the verse 
*'Gayatrt' named, which only High-born hear. 
“Acharya, I write,” meekly replied 
The Prince, and quickly on the dust he drew — 

Not in one script, but many characters — 

The sacred verse; Nagri and Dakshin, Nl, 

Mangal, Parusha, Yava, Tirthi, Uk, 

Darad, Sikhyani, Mana, Madhyachar, 

The pictured writings and the speech of signs 
Tokens of cave men and the sea-peoples. 

Of those who worship snakes beneath the earth 
And those who flame adore and the sun’s orb, 

The Magians and the dwellers on the mounds; 

Of all the nations all strange scripts he traced 
One after other with his writmg-stick, 

Reading the master’s verse in every tongue; 

And Viswamitra said, “It is enough, 

Let us to numbers. 

After me repeat 

Your numeration till we reach the Lakh,"^ 

One, two, three, four, to ten, and then by tens 
To hundreds, thousands.” After him the child 
Named digits, decads, centuries; nor paused, 

The round lakh reached, but softly murmured on, 
“Then comes the koti, nahut, ninnahut, 

Khamba, viskhamba, abab, attata. 

To kumuds, gundhikas, and utpalas, 

By pundarikas unto padumas, 

Which last is how you count the utmost grains 
Of Hastagiri ground to finest dust; 
thQysandr 



BUDDHISM 


386 

But beyond that a numeration is, 

The Katha, used to note the stars of night; 

The Koti-Katha, for the ocean drops; 

Ingga, the calculus of circulars; 

Sarvanikchepa, by the which you deal 
With all the sands of Gunga, till we come 
To Antah-Kalpas, where the unit is 
The sands of ten crore Gungas. If one seeks 
More comprehensive scale, th* arithmic mounts 
By the Asankya, which is the tale 
Of all the drops that in ten thousand years 
Would fall on all the worlds by daily ram; 

Thence unto Maha-Kalpas, by the which 
The Gods compute their future and their past ” 

’Tis good,” the sage rejoined. “Most noble Prince, 

If these thou know’st, needs it that I should teach 
The mensuration of the lineal?” 

Humbly the boy replied, “Acharya! 

Be pleased to hear me. Paramanus ten 

A parasukshma make; ten of those build 

The trasarene, and seven trasarenes 

One mote’s-length floating in the beam, seven motes 

The whisker-point of mouse, and ten of these 

One likhya; likhyas ten a yuka, ten 

Yukas a heart of barley, which is held 

Seven times a wasp- waist; so unto the grain 

Of mung and mustard and the barley-corn. 

Whereof ten give the finger-joint, twelve joints 
The span, wherefrom we reach the cubit, staff, 
Bow-length, lance-length; while twenty lengths of lance 
Mete what is named a ‘breath,’ which is to say 
Such space as man may stride with lungs once filled. 
Whereof a gow is forty, four times that 
A yojana; and, Master! if it please, 

I shall recite how many sun-motes lie 
From end to end within a yojana.” 

Thereat, with instant skill, the little Prince 
PronouAced the total of the atoms true, 



THE LIGHT OF ASIA 


387 


But Viswamitra heard it on his face 
Prostrate before the boy; ‘Tor thou,” he cried, 
“Art Teacher of thy teachers — thou, not I, 

Art Guru. Oh, I worship thee, sweet Prince! 

That contest to my school only to show 
Thou knowest all without the books, and know’st 
Fair reverence besides ” 

Which reverence 
Lord Buddha kept to all his schoolmasters. 

Albeit beyond their learning taught; in speech 
Right gentle, yet so wise; princely of mien, 

Yet softly-mannered; modest, deferent, 

And tender-hearted, though of fearless blood; 

No bolder horseman in the youthful band 
E’er rode in gay chase of the shy gazelles; 

No keener driver of the chariot 

In mimic contest scoured the Palace-courts; 

Yet in mid-play the boy would ofttimes pause, 
Letting the deer pass free; would ofttimes yield 
His half-won race because the labouring steeds 
Fetched painful breath; or if his princely mates 
Saddened to lose, or if some wistful dream 
Swept o’er his thoughts. And ever with the years 
Waxed this compassionateness of our Lord, 

Even as a great tree grows from two soft leaves 
To spread its shade afar; but hardly yet 
Knew the young child of sorrow, pain, or tears, 
Save as strange names for things not felt by kings. 
Nor ever to be felt. Then it befell 
In the Royal garden on a day of spring, 

A flock of wild swans passed, voyaging north 
To their nest-places on Himala’s breast. 

Calling in love-notes down their snowy line 
The bright birds flew, by fond love piloted; 

And Devadatta, cousin of the Prince, 

Pointed his bow, and loosed a wilful shaft 
Which found the wide wing of the foremost swan 
Broad-spread to glide upon the free blue road, 

So that it fell, the bitter arrow fixed, 



BUDDHISM 


388 

Bright scarlet blood-gouts staining the pure plumes. 
Which seeing. Prince Siddartha took the bird 
Tenderly up, rested it in his lap — 

Sitting with knees crossed, as Lord Buddha sits — 

And, soothing with a touch the wild thing’s fright, 
Composed its ruffled vans, calmed its quick heart, 
Caressed it into peace with light kind palms 
As soft as plantain-leaves an hour unrolled; 

And while the left hand held, the right hand drew 
The cruel steel forth from the wound, and laid 
Cool leaves and healing honey on the smart. 

Yet all so little knew the boy of pain 
That curiously into his wrist he pressed 
The arrow’s barb, and winced to feel it sting, 

And turned with tears to soothe his bird again. 

Then some one came who said, “My Prince hath shot 
A swan, which fell among the roses here, 

He bids me pray you send it. Will you send?” 

“Nay,” quoth Siddartha, “if the bird were dead 
To send it to the slayer might be well. 

But the swan lives; my cousin hath but killed 

The god-like speed which throbbed in this white wing.” 

And Devadatta answered, “The wild thing, 

Living or dead, is his who fetched it down; 

’Twas no man’s in the clouds, but fall’n ’tis mine, 

Give me my prize, fair Cousin.” Then our Lord 
Laid the swan’s neck beside his own smooth cheek 
And gravely spake, “Say no! the bird is mine. 

The first of myriad things which shall be mine 
By right of mercy and love’s lordliness. 

For now I know, by what within me stirs. 

That I shall teach compassion unto men 
And be a speechless world’s interpreter. 

Abating this accursed flood of woe. 

Not man’s alone; but, if the Prince disputes, 

Let him submit his matter to the wise 
And we will wait their word.” So was it done; 

In full divan the business had debate, 



THE LIGHT OF ASIA 


389 


And many thought this thing and many that; 

Till there arose an unknown priest who said, 

“If life be aught, the saviour of a life 

Owns more the living thing than he can own 

Who sought to slay — the slayer spoils and wastes, 

The chensher sustains; give him the bird:” 

Which judgment all found just; but when the King 
Sought out the sage for honour, he was gone. 

And some one saw a hooded snake glide forth, — 

The gods come ofttimes thus! So our Lord Buddha 
Began his works of mercy. 

Yet not more 

Knew he as yet of grief than that one bird’s. 

Which, being healed, went joyous to its kind. 

But on another day the King said, ‘‘Come, 

Sweet son! and see the pleasuance of the spring, 

And how the fruitful earth is wooed to yield 
Its riches to the reaper; how my realm — 

Which shall be thine when the pile flames for me — 
Feeds all its mouths and keeps the King’s chest filled. 
Fair is the season with new leaves, bright blooms. 

Green grass, and cries of plough-time.” So they rode 
Into a land of wells and gardens, where. 

All up and down the rich red loam, the steers 
Strained their strong shoulders in the creaking yoke 
Dragging the ploughs; the fat soil rose and rolled 
In smooth long waves back from the plough; who drove 
Planted both feet upon the leaping share 
To make the furrow deep; among the palms 
The tinkle of the rippling water rang, 

And where it ran the glad earth ’broidered it 
With balsams and the spears of lemon-grass. 

Elsewhere were sowers who went forth to sow; 

And all the jungle laughed with nesting-songs, 

And all the thickets rustled with small life 
Of lizard> bee, beetle, and creeping things 
Pleased at the spring-time. In the mango-sprays 
The sun-birds flashed; alone at his green forge 
Toiled the loud coppersmith; bee-eaters hawked 



BUDDHISM 


390 

Chasing the purple butterflies; beneath, 

Striped squirrels raced, the mynas perked and picked. 
The seven brown sisters chattered in the thorn, 

The pied fish-tiger hung above the pool, 

The egrets stalked among the buffaloes, 

The kites sailed circles in the golden air; 

About the painted temple peacocks flew, 

The blue doves cooed from every well, far off 
The village drums beat for some marriage-feast; 

All things spoke peace and plenty, and the Prince 
Saw and rejoiced. But, looking deep, he saw 
The thorns which grow upon this rose of life: 

How the swart peasant sweated for his wage, 

Toiling for leave to live; and how he urged 
The great-eyed oxen through the flaming hours. 
Goading their velvet flanks: then marked he, too, 
How lizard fed on ant, and snake on him. 

And kite on both; and how the fish-hawk robbed 
The fish-tiger of that which it had seized; 

The shrike chasing the bulbul, which did hunt 
The jewelled butterflies; till everywhere 
Each slew a slayer and in turn was slain, 

Life living upon death. So the fair show 
Veiled one vast, savage, grim conspiracy 
Of mutual murder, from the worm to man. 

Who himself kills his fellow; seeing which — 

The hungry ploughman and his labouring kine. 
Their dewlaps blistered with the bitter yoke. 

The rage to live which makes all living strife — 

The Prince Siddartha sighed. “Is this,” he said, 
“That happy earth they brought me forth to see? 
How salt with sweat the peasant’s bread! how hard 
The oxen’s service! in the brake how fierce 
The war of weak and strong! i’ th’ air what plots! 
No refuge e’en in water. Go aside 
A space, and let me muse on what ye show.” 

So saying the good Lord Buddha seated him 
Under a jambu-tree, with ankles crossed — 



THE LIGHT OF ASIA 


391 


As holy statutes sit — and first began 
To meditate this deep disease of life. 

What its far source and whence its remedy. 

So vast a pity filled him, such wide love 
For living things, such passion to heal pain, 

That by their stress his princely spirit passed 
To ecstasy, and, purged from mortal taint 
Of sense and self, the boy attained thereat 
Dhyana,^ first step of “the path.*' 

There flew 

High overhead that hour five holy ones, 

Whose free wings faltered as they passed the tree. 
“What power superior draws us from our flight.?” 
They asked, — for spirits feel all force divine, 

And know the sacred presence of the pure. 

Then, looking downward, they beheld the Buddh 
Crowned with a rose-hued aureole, intent 
On thoughts to save; while from the grove a voice 
Cried, “Rishis! ® this is He shall help the world. 
Descend and worship.” So the Bright Ones came 
And sang a song of praise, folding their wings; 
Then journeyed on, taking good news to Gods. 

But certain from the King seeking the Prince 
Found him still musing, though the noon was past, 
And the sun hastened to the western hills: 

Yet, while all shadows moved, the jambu-tree’s 
Stayed in one quarter, overspreading him, 

Lest the sloped rays should strike that sacred head; 
And he who saw this sight heard a voice say, 

Amid the blossoms of the rose-apple, 

“Let be the King’s son! till the shadow goes 
Forth from his heart my shadow will not shift.” 

BOOK THE SECOND 

Now, WHEN OUR Lord was come to eighteen years. 
The King commanded that there should be built 

^ Meditation, ® ^dcrs. 



BUDDHISM 


392 

Three stately houses, one of hewn square beams 
With cedar lining, warm for winter days; 

One of veined marbles, cool for summer heat; 

And one of burned bricks, with blue tiles bedecked, 
Pleasant at seed-time, when the champaks bud — 
Subha, Suramma, Ramma, were their names. 

Delicious gardens round about them bloomed. 

Streams wandered wild, and musky thickets stretched, 
With many a bright pavilion and fair lawn 
In midst of which Siddartha strayed at will, 

Some new delight provided every hour; 

And happy hours he knew, for life was rich, 

With youthful blood at quickest; yet still came 
The shadows of his meditation back, 

As the lake’s silver dulls with driving clouds. 

Which the King marking, called his Ministers: 
‘^Bethink ye, sirs! how the old Rishi spake,” 

He said, ‘‘and what my dream-readers foretold. 

This boy, more dear to me than mine heart’s blood, 
Shall be of universal dominance,* 

Trampling the neck of all his enemies, 

A King of kings — and this is in my heart; — 

Or he shall tread the sad and lowly path 
Of self-denial and of pious pains, 

Gaining who knows what good, when all is lost 
Worth keeping; and to this his wistful eyes 
Do still incline amid my palaces. 

But ye are sage, and ye will counsel me; 

How may his feet be turned to that proud road 
Where they should walk, and all fair signs come true 
Which gave him Earth to rule, if he would rule?” 

The eldest answered, “Maharaja! ^ love 
Will cure these thin distempers; weave the spell 
Of woman’s wiles about his idle heart. 

What knows this noble boy of beauty yet. 

Eyes that make heaven forgot, and lip& of balm? - 

' Great king. 



THE LIGHT OF ASIA 


393 


Find him soft wives and pretty playfellows; 

The thoughts ye cannot stay with brazen chains 
A girl’s hair lightly binds.” 

And all thought good. 

But the King answered, “If we seek him wives, 

Love chooseth ofttimes with another eye; 

And if we bid range Beauty’s garden round, 

To pluck what blossom pleases, he will smile 
And sweetly shun the joy he knows not of.” 

Then said another, “Roams the barasingh ^ 

Until the fated arrow flies; for him, 

As for less lordly spirits, some one charms, 

Some face will seem a Paradise, some form 
Fairer than pale Dawn when she wakes the world. 

This do, my King! Command a festival 
Where the realm’s maids shall be competitors 
In youth and grace, and sports that Sakyas use. 

Let the Prince give the prizes to the fair, 

And, when the lovely victors pass his seat, 

There shall be those who mark if one or two 
Change the fixed sadness of his tender cheek; 

So we may choose for Love with Love’s own eyes, 

And cheat his Highness into happiness.” 

This thing seemed good; wherefore, upon a day, 

The criers bade the young and beautiful 
Pass to the palace, for ’twas in command 
To hold a court of pleasure, and the Prince 
Would give the prizes, something rich for all. 

The richest for the fairest judged. Thus flocked 
Kapilavastu’s maidens to the gate. 

Each with her dark hair newly smoothed and bound, 

Eyelashes lustred with the soorma-stick, 

Fresh-bathed and scented; all in shawls and cloths 
Of gayest; slender hands and feet new-stained 
With crimson, and the tilka-spots ® stamped bright. 

Fair show it was of all those Indian girls 
Slow-pacing past the throne with large black eyes 
Fixed on the ground; for when they saw the Prince 

^ A stf g. ® The beauty-spots between the eyebrows of Hindu women. 



BUDDHISM 


394 

More than the awe of Majesty made beat 
Their fluttering hearts, he sate so passionless, 

Gentle, but so beyond them. Each maid took 
With down-dropped lids her gift, afraid to gaze; 

And if the people hailed some lovelier one 
Beyond her rivals worthy royal smiles, 

She stood like a scared antelope to touch 
The gracious hand, then fled to join her mates 
Trembling at favour, so divine he seemed, 

So high and saint-like and above her world. 

Thus filed they, one bright maid after another. 

The city’s flowers, and all this beauteous march 
Was ending and the prizes spent, when last 
Came young Yasodhara, and they that stood 
Nearest Siddartha saw the princely boy 
Start, as the radiant girl approached. A form 
Of heavenly mould; a gait like Parvati’s; 

Eyes like a hind’s in love-time; face so fair 
Words cannot paint its spell; and she alone 
Gazed full — folding her palms across her breasts — 

On the boy’s gaze, her stately neck unbent. 

‘‘Is there a gift for me?” she asked, and smiled. 

“The gifts are gone,” the Prince replied, “yet take 
This for amends, dear sister, of whose grace 
Our happy city boasts;” therewith he loosed 
The emerald necklet from his throat, and clasped 
Its green beads round her dark and silk-soft waist; 

And their eyes mixed, and from the look sprang love. 

Long after — when enlightenment was full — 

Lord Buddha, being prayed why thus his heart 
Took fire at first glance of the Sakya girl, 

Answered, “We were not strangers, as to us 
And all it seemed; in ages long gone by 
A hunter’s son, playing with forest girls 
By Yamun’s springs, where Nandadevi stands, 

Sate umpire while they raced beneath the firs 
Like hares at eve that run their playful rings; 

One with flower-stars he crowned; one widi long plumes 



THE LIGHT OF ASIA 


395 


Plucked from eyed pheasant and the jungle-cock; 

One with fir-apples; but who ran the last 
Came first for him, and unto her the boy 
Gave a tame fawn and his heart’s love beside. 

And in the wood they lived many glad years, 

And in the wood they undivided died. 

Lo! as hid seed shoots after rainless years, 

So good and evil, pains and pleasures, hates 
And loves, and all dead deeds, come forth again 
Bearing bright leaves or dark, sweet fruit or sour. 

Thus I was he and she Yasodhara; 

And while the wheel of birth and death turns round 
That which hath been must be between us two.” 

But they who watched the Prince at prize-giving 
Saw and heard all, and told the careful King 
How sate Siddartha heedless, till there passed 
Great Suprabuddha’s child, Yasodhara; 

And how — at sudden sight of her — ^he changed, 

And how she gazed on him and he on her, 

And of the jewel-gift, and what beside 
Passed in their speaking glance. 

The fond King smiled: 

“Look! we have found a lure; take counsel now 
To fetch therewith our falcon from the clouds. 

Let messengers be sent to ask the maid 
In marriage for my son.” But it was law 
With Sakyas, when any asked a maid 
Of noble house, fair and desirable, 

He must make good his skill in martial arts 
Against all suitors who should challenge it; 

Nor might this custom break itself for kings. 

Therefore her father spake: “Say to the King, 

The child is sought by princes far and near; 

If thy most gentle son can bend the bow, 

Sway sword, and back a horse better than they, 

Best would he be in all and best to us: 

But bpw shall this be, with his cloistered ways?” 



BUDDHISM 


396 

Then the King’s heart was sore, for now the Prince 
Begged sweet Yas5dhara for wife — ^in vain. 

With Devadatta foremost at the bow, 

Ardjuna master of all fiery steeds, 

And Nanda chief in sword-play; but the Prince 
Laughed low and said, “These things, too, I have learned 
Make proclamation that they son will meet 
All comers at their chosen games. I think 
I shall not lose my love for such as these.” 

So ’twas given forth that on the seventh day 
The Prince Siddartha summoned whoso would 
To match with him in feats of manliness, 

The victor’s crown to be Yasodhara. 

Therefore, upon the seventh day, there went 
The Sakya lords, and town and country round, 

Unto the maidan; ^ and the maid went too 
Amid her kinsfolk, carried as a bride, 

With music, and with litters gaily dight, 

And gold-horned oxen, flower-caparisoned: 

Whom Devadatta claimed, of royal line, 

And Nanda and Ardjuna, noble both, 

The flower of all youths there; till the Prince came 
Riding his white horse Kantaka, which neighed, 
Astonished at this great strange world without: 

Also Siddartha gazed with wondering eyes 
On all those people born beneath the throne. 

Otherwise housed than kings, otherwise fed. 

And yet so like — ^perchance — ^in joys and griefs. 

But when the Prince saw sweet Yasodhara, 

Brightly he smiled, and drew his silken rein, 

Leaped to the earth from Kantaka’s broad back, 

And cried, “He is not worthy of this pearl 
Who is not worthiest; let my rivals prove 
If I have dared too much in seeking her.” 

Then Nanda challenged for the- arrow-test 
And set a brazen drum six gows away, 

Ard}una six and Devadatta eight; 

^ Anglo-Indian word, “parade ground,” 



THE LIGHT OF ASIA 


397 


But Prince Siddartha bade them set his drum 
Ten gows from off the line, until it seemed 
A cowry-shell for target. Then they loosed, 

And Nanda pierced his drum, Ardjuna his, 

And Devadatta drove a well-aimed shaft 
Through both sides of his mark, so that the crowd 
Marvelled and cried; and sweet Yasodhara 
Dropped the gold sari ^ o’er her fearful eyes, 

Lest she should see her Prince’s arrow fail. 

But he, taking their bow of lacquered cane. 

With sinews bound, and strung with silver wire. 

Which none but stalwart arms could draw a span. 

Thrummed it — low laughing — drew the twisted string 
Till the horns kissed, and the thick belly snapped: 

‘That is for play, not love,” he said; “hath none 
A bow more fit for Sakya lords to use.'^” 

And one said, “There is Sinhahanu’s bow, 

Kept m the temple since we know not when, 

Which none can string, nor draw if it be strung.” 

“Fetch me,” he cried, “that weapon of a man!” 

They brought the ancient bow, wrought of black steel, 

Laid with gold tendrils on its branching curves 
Like bison-horns; and twice Siddartha tried 
Its strength across his knee, then spake — ^“Shoot now 
With this, my cousins!” but they could not bring 
The stubborn arms a hand’s-breadth nigher use; 

Then the Prince, lightly leaning, bent the bow. 

Slipped home the eye upon the notch, and twanged 
Sharply the cord, which, like an eagle’s wing 
Thrilhng the air, sang forth so clear and loud. 

That feeble folk at home that day inquired 
“What is this sound.?” and people answered them, 

“It is the sound of Sinhahanu’s bow. 

Which the King’s son has strung and goes to shoot.” 

Then fitting fair a shaft, he drew and loosed. 

And the keen arrow clove the sky, and drave 

^ Garment of Hindu women, wound round the body with one end thrown over the 
shoulder. 



BUDDHISM 


398 

Right through that farthest drum, nor stayed its flight, 
But skimmed the plain beyond, past reach of eye. 

Next, Devadatta challenged with the sword, 

And clove a Talas-tree six fingers thick; 

Ardjuna seven; and Nanda cut through nine; 

But two such stems together grew, and both 
Siddartha’s blade shred at one flashing stroke, 

Keen, but so smooth that the straight trunks upstood, 

And Nanda cried, “His edge turned!” and the maid 
Trembled anew seeing the trees erect; 

Until the Devas of the air, who watched. 

Blew light breaths from the south, and both green crowns 
Crashed in the sand, clean-felled. 


Then brought they steeds, 
High-mettled, nobly-bred, and three times scoured 
Around the maidan, but white Kantaka 
Left even the fleetest far behind — so swift. 

That ere the foam fell from his mouth to earth 
Twenty spear-lengths he flew; but Nanda said, 

“We too might win with such as Kantaka; 

Fetch an unbroken horse, and let men sec 
Who best can back him,” So the syces ^ brought 
A stallion dark as night, led by three chains, 

Fierce-eyed, with nostrils wide and tossing mane, 

Unshod, unsaddled, for no rider yet 

Had crossed him. Three times each young Sakya 

Sprang to his mighty back, but the hot steed 

Furiously reared, and flung them to the plain 

In dust and shame; only Ardjuna held 

His seat awhile, and, bidding loose the chains. 

Lashed the black flank, and shook the bit, and held 
The proud jaws fast with grasp of master-hand, 

So that in storms of wrath and rage and fear 
The savage stallion circled once the plain 
Half-tamed; but sudden turned with naked teeth, 

Gripped by the foot Ardjuna, tore him down, 

' Groom (Anglo-Indian word) , 



THE LIGHT OF ASIA 


399 


And would have slam him, but the grooms ran in 
Fettering the maddened beast. Then all men cried, 
“Let not Siddartha meddle with this Bhut, 

Whose liver is a tempest, and his blood 
Red flame;” but the Prince said, “Let go the chains, 
Give me his forelock only,” which he held 
With quiet grasp, and, speaking some low word, 

Laid his right palm across the stallion’s eyes, 

And drew it gently down the angry face. 

And all along the neck and panting flanks, 

Till men astonished saw the night-black horse 
Sink his fierce crest and stand subdued and meek. 

As though he knew our Lord and worshipped him. 
Nor stirred he while Siddartha mounted; then 
Went soberly to touch of knee and rein 
Before all eyes, so that the people said, 

“Strive no more, for Siddartha is the best.” 

And all the suitors answered “He is best!” 

And Suprabuddha, father of the maid, 

Said, “It was in our hearts to find thee best. 

Being dearest, yet what magic taught thee more 
Of manhood ’mid thy rose-bowers and thy dreams 
Than war and chase and world’s work bring to these? 
But wear, fair Prince, the treasure thou has won.” 
Then at a word the lovely Indian girl 
Rose from her place above the throng, and took 
A crown of mogra-flowers, and lightly drew 
The veil of black and gold across her brow, 
Proud-pacing past the youths, until she came 
To where Siddartha stood in grace divine, 

New lighted from the night-dark steed, which bent 
Its strong neck meekly underneath his arm. 

Before the Prince lowly she bowed, and bared 
Her face celestial beaming with glad love; 

Then on his neck she hung the fragrant wreath. 

And on his breast she laid her perfect head. 

And stooped to touch his feet with proud glad eyes, 
Saying, ‘'Dear Prince, behold me, who am thine!” 



BUDDHISM 


400 

And all the throng rejoiced, seeing them pass 
Hand fast in hand, and heart beating with heart, 

The veil of black and gold drawn close again. 

Long after — ^when enlightenment was come — 

They prayed Lord Buddha touching all, and why 
She wore this black and gold, and stepped so proud. 
And the World-honoured answered, “Unto me 
This was unknown, albeit it seemed half known; 

For while the wheel of birth and death turns round, 
Past things and thoughts, and buried lives come back. 
I now remember, myriad rams ago. 

What time I roamed Himala’s hanging woods, 

A tiger, with my striped and hungry kind; 

I, who am Buddh, couched in the kusa grass 
Gazing with green blinked eyes upon the herds 
Which pastured near and nearer to their death 
Round my day-lair; or underneath the stars 
I roamed for prey, savage, insatiable, 

Sniffing the paths for track of man and deer. 

Amid the beasts that were my fellows then, 

Met in deep jungle or by reedy jheel,^ 

A tigress, comeliest of the forest, set 
The males at war; her hide was lit with gold, 
Black-broidered like the veil Yasodhara 
Wore for me; hot the strife waxed in that wood 
With tooth and claw, while, underneath a neem 
The fair beast watched us bleed, thus fiercely wooed. 
And I remember, at the end she came. 

Snarling, past this and that torn forest-lord 
Whom I had conquered, and with fawning jaws 
Licked my quick-heaving flank, and with me went 
Into the wild with proud steps, amorously. 

The wheel of birth and death turns low and high.” 

Therefore the maid was given unto the Prince 
A willing spoil; and when the stars were good— 
Mesha, the Red Ram, being Lord of heaven— 

^ A pool or lagoon in India aftej a flgodt 



THE LIGHT OF ASIA 


401 


The marriage feast was kept, as Sakyas use. 

The golden gadi ^ set, the carpet spread. 

The wedding garlands hung, the arm-threads tied. 

The sweet cake broke, the rice and attar thrown, 

The two straws floated on the reddened milk. 

Which, coming close, betokened ‘dove till death;” 

The seven steps taken thrice around the fire, 

The gifts bestowed on holy men, the alms 
And temple-offerings made, the mantras ^ sung, 

The garments of the bride and bridegroom tied. 

Then the grey father spake: “Worshipful Prince, 

She that was ours henceforth is only thine; 

Be good to her, who hath her life m thee.” 

Wherewith they brought home sweet Yasodhara, 

With songs and trumpets, to the Prince’s arms, 

And love was all in all. 

Yet not to love 
Alone trusted the King; love’s prison-house 
Stately and beautiful he bade them build, 

So that in all the earth no marvel was 
Like Vishramvan, the Prince’s pleasure-place. 

Midway in those wide palace-grounds there rose 
A verdant hill whose base Rohini bathed, 

Murmuring adown from Himalay’s broad feet, 

To bear its tribute into Gunga’s waves. 

Southward a growth of tamarind trees and sal, 

Thick set with pale sky-coloured ganthi flowers, 

Shut out the world, save if the city’s hum 
Came on the wind no harsher than when bees 
Buzz out of sight in thickets. Northwards soared 
The stainless ramps of huge Himala’s wall, 

Ranged in white ranks against the blue— untrod. 

Infinite, wonderful— whose uplands vast, 

And lifted universe of crest and crag. 

Shoulder and shelf, green slope and icy horn, 

Riven ravine, and splintered precipice 

Led climbing thought higher and higher, until 

It seemed to stand in heaven and speak with gods. 

^Seat cushion. ® Hymns, or metrical passages (prayers or formulas). 



BUDDHISM 


402 

Beneath the snows dark forests spread, sharp-laced 
With leaping cataracts and veiled with clouds: 

Lower grew rose-oaks and the great fir groves 
Where echoed pheasant’s call and panther’s cry, 

Clatter of wild sheep on the stones, and scream 
Of circling eagles: under these the plain 
Gleamed like a praying-carpet at the foot 
Of those divinest altars. Fronting this 
The builders set the bright pavilion up, 

Fair-planted on the terraced hill, with towers 
On either flank and pillared cloisters round. 

Its beams were carved with stories of old time— 

Radha and Krishna and the sylvan girls — 

Sita and Hanuman and Draupadi; 

And on the middle porch God Ganesha, 

With disc and hook — to bring wisdom and wealth— 
Propitious sate, wreathing his sidelong trunk. 

By winding ways of garden and of court 
The inner gate was reached, of marble wrought, 

White, with pink veins; the lintel lazuli. 

The threshold alabaster, and the doors 
Sandal-wood, cut in pictured panelling; 

Whereby to lofty halls and shadowy bowers 
Passed the delighted foot, on stately stairs, 

Through latticed galleries, ’neath pamted roofs 
And clustering columns, where cool fountains— fringed 
With lotus and nelumbo — danced; and fish 
Gleamed through their crystal, scarlet, gold, and blue. 
Great-eyed gazelles in sunny alcoves browsed 
The blown red roses; birds of rainbow wing 
Fluttered among the palms; doves, green and grey, 
Built their safe nests on gilded cornices; 

Over the shining pavements peacocks drew 
The splendours of their trains, sedately watched 
By milk-white herons and the small house-owls. 

The plum-necked parrots swung from fruit to fruit; 
The yellow sunbirds whirred from bloom to bloom, 
The timid lizards on the lattice basked 
Fearless, the squirrels ran to feed from hand; 



THE LIGHT OF ASIA 


403 


For all was peace: the shy black snake, that gives 
Fortune to households, sunned his sleepy coils 
Under the moon-flowers, where the musk-deer played, 
And brown-eyed monkeys chattered to the crows. 
And all this House of love was peopled fair 
With sweet attendance, so that in each part 
With lovely sights were gentle faces found, 

Soft speech and willing service; each one glad 
To gladden, pleased at pleasure, proud to obey; 

Till life glided beguiled, like a smooth stream 
Banked by perpetual flow rs, Yasodhara 
Queen of the enchanting Court. 

But, innermost. 

Beyond the richness of those hundred halls, 

A secret chamber lurked, where skill had spent 
All lovely fantasies to lull the mind. 

The entrance of it was a cloistered square — 

Roofed by the sky, and in the midst a tank — 

Of milky marble built, and laid with slabs 
Of milk-white marble; bordered round the tank 
And on the steps, and all along the frieze 
With tender inlaid work of agate-stones. 

Cool as to tread in summer-time on snows 
It was to loiter there; the sunbeams dropped 
Their gold, and, passing into porch and niche, 
Softened to shadows, silvery, pale, and dim, 

As if the very Day paused and grew Eve 
In love and silence at that bower’s gate; 

For there beyond the gate the chamber was, 

Beautiful, sweet; a wonder of the world I 

Soft light from perfumed lamps through windows fell. 

Of nakre and stained stars of lucent film. 

On golden cloths outspread, and silken beds. 

And heavy splendour of the purdah’s ^ fringe, 

Lifted to take only the loveliest in. 

Here, whether it was night or day none knew. 

For always streamed that softened light, more bright 
Than sunrise, but as tender as the eve’s; 

^ Curtain with which Indian women are screened from strangers. 



BUDDHISM 


404 

And always breathed sweet airs, more joy-giving 
Than morning’s, but as cool as midnight’s breath; 

And night and day lutes sighed, and night and day 
Delicious foods were spread, and dewy fruits, 

Sherbets new chilled with snows of Himalay, 

And sweetmeats made of subtle daintiness. 

With sweet tree-milk in its own ivory cup. 

And night and day served there a chosen band 
Of nautch girls, ^ cup-bearers, and cymballers, 

Delicate, dark-browed ministers of love, 

Who fanned the sleeping eyes of the happy Prince, 

And when he waked, led back his thoughts to bliss 
With music whispering through the blooms, and charm 
Of amorous songs and dreamy dances, linked 
By chime of ankle-bells and wave of arms 
And silver vina-strings; ^ while essences 
Of musk and champak, and the blue haze spread 
From burning spices, soothed his soul again 
To drowse by sweet Yasodhara; and thus 
Siddartha lived forgetting. 

Furthermore, 

The King commanded that within those walls 
No mention should be made of death or age, 

Sorrow, or pain, or sickness. If one drooped 
In the lovely Court — ^her dark glance dim, her feet 
Faint in the dance— the guildess criminal 
Passed forth an exile from that Paradise, 

Lest he should see and suffer at her woe. 

Bright-eyed intendants watched to execute 
Sentence on such as spake of the harsh world 
Without, where aches and plagues were, tears and fears, 

And wail of mourners, and grim fume of pyres. 

’Twas treason if a thread of silver strayed 
In tress of singing-girl or nautch-dancer; 

And every dawn the dying rose was plucked, 

The dead leaves hid, all evil sights removed: 

For said the King, “If he shall pass his youth 
Far from such things as move to wistfulness, 

^Indian dandng girls. “Hindu musical instrument of the guitar kind. 



THE LIGHT OF ASIA 


405 


And brooding on the empty eggs of thought, 

The shadow of this fate, too vast for man. 

May fade, belike, and I shall see him grow 
To that great stature of fair sovereignty 
When he shall rule all lands— if he will rule — 

The King of kings and Glory of his time ” 

Wherefore, around that pleasant prison-house— 
Where love was gaoler and delights its bars — 

But far removed from sight, the King bade build 
A massive wall, and in the wall a gate 
With brazen folding-doors, which but to roll 
Back on their hinges asked a hundred arms; 

Also the noise of that prodigious gate 
Opening, was heard full half a y5jana.^ 

And inside this another gate he made. 

And yet within another — ^through the three 
Must one pass if he quit that Pleasure-house. 

Three mighty gates there were, bolted and barred. 
And over each was set a faithful watch; 

And the King’s order said, “Suffer no man 
To pass the gates, though he should be the Prince: 
This on your lives — even though it be my son.” 

BOOK THE THIRD 

In which calm home of happy life and love 
Ligged our Lord Buddha, knowing not of woe, 

Nor want, nor pain, nor plague, nor age, nor death, 
Save as when sleepers roam dim seas in dreams. 

And land awearied on the shores of day, 

Bringing strange merchandise from that black voyage* 
Thus ofttimes, when he lay with gentle head 
Lulled on the dark breasts of Yasodhara, 

Her fond hands fanning slow his sleeping lids. 

He would start up and cry, “My world! Oh, world! 

I hear! I know! I come!” And she would ask, 

“What ails my Lord?” with large eyes terror-struck; 

^ Yejana, nine English miles. 



BUDDHISM 


406 

For at such times the pity in his look 
Was awful, and his visage like a god’s. 

Then would he smile again to stay her tears, 

And bid the vinas sound; but once they set 
A stringed gourd on the sill, there where the wind 
Could linger o’er its notes and play at will — 

Wild music makes the wind on silver strings — 
And those who lay around heard only that; 

But Prince Siddartha heard the Devas play, 

And to his ears they sang such words as these: — 

We are the voices of the wandering wind, 

Which moan for rest, and rest can never find; 

Lot as the wind is, so is mortal life, 

A moan, a sigh, a soh, a storm, a strife. 

Wherefore and whence we are ye cannot \now. 
Nor where life springs, nor whither life doth go; 
We are as ye are, ghosts from the inane. 

What pleasure have we of our changeful pain? 

What pleasure hast thou of thy changeless bliss? 
Nay, if love lasted, there were joy in this; 

But life's way is the wind's way, all these things 
Are but brief voices breathed on shifting strings^ 

O Maya's ^ son! because we roam the earth 
Moan we upon these strings: we ma\e no mirth. 
So many woes we see in many lands, 

So many streaming eyes and wringing hands. 

Yet moc\ we while we wail, for, could they \now. 
This life they cling to is but empty show; 

'Twere all as well to bid a cloud to stand. 

Or hold a running river with the hand. 

But thou that art to save, thine hour is nigh! 

The sad world waiteth in its misery, 

^ Buddha’s mother’s name. 



THE LIGHT OF ASIA 

The blind world stumbleth on its wund of pain; 

Rise, Mayas child! wa\e! slumber not again! 

We are the voices of the wandering wind: 

Wander thou, too, 0 Pi ince, thy rest to find; 

Leave love for love of lovers, for woes sa\e 
Quit state for sorrow, and deliverance ma\e. 

So sigh we, passing o'er the silver strings. 

To thee who \now'st not yet of earthly things; 

So say we; mocking, as we pass away, 

These lovely shadows wherewith thou dost play. 

Thereafter it befell he sate at eve 
Amid his beauteous Court, holding the hand 
Of sweet Yasodhara, and some maid told — 

With breaks of music when her rich voice dropped— 
An ancient tale to speed the hour of dusk, 

Of love, and of a magic horse, and lands 
Wonderful, distant, where pale peoples dwelled, 

And where the sun at night sank into seas. 

Then spake he, sighing, “Chitra brings me back 
The wind’s song in the strings with that fair tale: 

Give her, Yasodhara, thy pearl for thanks. 

But thou, my pearl! is there so wide a world? 

Is there a land which sees the great sun roll 
Into the waves, and are there hearts like ours. 
Countless, unknown, not happy — ^it may be — 

Whom we might succour if we knew of them? 
Ofttimes I marvel, as the Lord of day 
Treads from the east his kingly road of gold. 

Who first on the world’s edge hath hailed his beam, 
The children of the morning; oftentimes. 

Even in thine arms and on thy breasts, bright wife, 
Sore have I panted, at the sun’s decline, 

To pass with him into that crimson west 
And see the peoples of the evening. 

There must be many we should love — ^how else? 
Now have I in this hour an ache, at last 


407 



BUDDHISM 


408 

Thy soft lips cannot kiss away: oh, girl! 

O Chitra! you that know of fairyland! 

Where tether they that swift steed of thy tale? 

My palace for one day upon his back, 

To ride and ride and see the spread of the earth; 

Nay, if I had yon callow vulture’s plumes — 

The carrion heir of wider realms than mine — 

How would I stretch for topmost Himalay, 

Light where the rose-gleam lingers on those snows. 

And strain my gaze with searching what is round! 

Why have I never seen and never sought? 

Tell me what lies beyond our brazen gates.” 

Then one replied, “The city first, fair Prince! 

The temples, and the gardens, and the groves, 

And then the fields; and afterwards fresh fields, 

With nullahs,^ maidans, jungle, koss * on koss; 

And next King Bimbasara’s realm, and then 
The vast flat world, with crores ® on crores of folk ” 

“Good,” said Siddartha; “let the word be sent 
That Channa yoke my chariot — ^at noon 
To-morrow I shall ride and sec beyond.” 

Whereof they told the King: “Our Lord, thy son, 

Wills that his chariot be yoked at noon, 

That he may ride abroad and see mankind.” 

“Yea!” spake the careful King, “ ’tis time he sees; 

But let the criers go about and bid 

My city deck itself, so there be met 

No noisome sight; and let none blind or maimed. 

None that is sick, or stricken deep in years. 

No leper, and no feeble folk come forth.” 

Therefore the stones were swept, and up and down 
The water-carriers sprinkled all the streets 
From spirting skins, the housewives scattered fresh 
Red powder on their thresholds, strung new wreaths, 

And trimmed the tulsi-bush before their doors. 

^ Ravines, nvcr-bcds. ® A distance of over two English miles. ® Millions (Hindu word). 



THE LIGHT OF ASIA 


409 


The paintings on the walls were heightened up 
With liberal brush, the trees set thick with flags, 

The idols gilded; in the four-went ways 
Suryadeva and the great gods shone 
’Mid shrines of leaves; so that the city seemed 
A capital of some enchanted land. 

Also the criers passed, with drum and gong, 
Proclaiming loudly, “Ho! all citizens, 

The King commands that there be seen to-day 
No evil sight: let no one blind or maimed. 

None that is sick, or stricken deep in years. 

No leper, and no feeble folk go forth. 

Let none, too, burn his dead nor bring them out 
’Till nightfall. Thus Suddhodana commands.” 

So all was comely and the houses trim 
Throughout Kapilavastu, while the Prince 
Came forth in painted car, which two steers drew. 
Snow-white, with swinging dewlaps, and huge humps 
Wrinkled against the carved and lacquered yoke. 
Goodly it was to mark the people’s joy 
Greeting their Prince; and glad Siddartha waxed 
At sight of all those liege and friendly folk 
Bright-clad and laughing as if life were good. 

“Fair is the world,” he said, “it likes me well! 

And light and kind these men that are not kings. 

And sweet my sisters here, who toil and tend; 

What have I done for these to make them thus.? 

Why, if I love them, should those children know.? 

I pray take up yon pretty Sakya boy 

Who flung us flowers, and let him ride with me. 

How good it is to reign in realms hke this! 

How simple pleasure is, if these be pleased 
Because I come abroad! How many things 
I need not if such little households hold 
Enough to make our city full of smiles! 

Drive, Channa! ^ through the gates, and let me see 
More of this gracious world I have not known.” 

^ dnver, 



BUDDHISM 


410 

So passed they through the gates, a joyous crowd 
Thronging about the wheels, whereof some ran 
Before the oxen, throwing wreaths; some stroked 
Their silken flanks; some brought them rice and cakes, 
All crying, '*faz! jai! for our noble Prince!” 

Thus all the path was kept with gladsome looks 
And filled with fair sights — ^for the King’s word was 
That such should be — ^when midway in the road. 

Slow tottering from the hovel where he hid, 

Crept forth a wretch in rags, haggard and foul, 

An old, old man, whose shrivelled skin, sun-tanned, 
Clung like a beast’s hide to its fleshless bones. 

Bent was his back with load of many days, 

His eyepits red with rust of ancient tears, 

His dim orbs blear with rheum, his toothless jaws 
Wagging with palsy and the fright to see 
So many and such joy. One skinny hand 
Clutched a worn staff to prop his quavering limbs, 
And one was pressed upon the ridge of ribs 
Whence came in gasps the heavy painful breath. 
“Alms!” moaned he, “give, good people! for I die 
To-morrow or the next day!” then the cough 
Choked him, but still he stretched his palm, and stood 
Blinking, and groaning ’mid his spasms, “Alms!” 
Then those around had wrenched his feeble feet 
Aside, and thrust him from the road again, 

Saying, “The Prince! dost see? get to thy lair!” 

But that Siddartha cried, “Let be! let be! 

Channa^ what thing is this who seems a man, 

Yet surely only seems, being so bowed. 

So miserable, so horrible, so sad? 

Are men born sometimes thus ? What meaneth he 
Moaning "to-morrow or next day I die?’ 

Finds he no food that so his bones jut forth? 

What woe hath happened to this piteous one?” 

Then answer made the charioteer, “Sweet Prince! 

This is no other than an aged man; 

Some fourscore years ago his back was straight, 

His eye bright, and his body goodly : now 



THE LIGHT OF ASIA 


The thievish years have sucked his sap away, 

Pillaged his strength and filched his will and wit; 

His lamp has lost its oil, the wick burns black; 

What life he keeps is one poor lingering spark 
Which flickers for the finish : such is age; 

Why should your Highness heed?” Then spake the Prince 
“But shall this come to others, or to all, 

Or is it rare that one should be as he?” 

“Most noble,” answered Channa, “even as he. 

Will all these grow if they shall live so long ” 

“But,” quoth the Prince, “if I shall live as long 

Shall I be thus; and if Yasodhara 

Live fourscore years, is this old age for her, 

Jalini, little Hasta, Gautami, 

And Gunga, and the others?” “Yea, great Sir!” 

The charioteer replied. Then spake the Prince: 

“Turn back, and drive me to my house again! 

I have seen that I did not think to see.” 

Which pondering, to his beauteous Court returned 
Wistful Siddartha, sad of mien and mood; 

Nor tasted he the white cakes nor the fruits 
Spread for the evening feast, nor once looked up 
While the best palace-dancers strove to charm: 

Nor spake — save one sad thing — ^when wofully 
Yasodhara sank to his feet and wept, 

Sighing, “Hath not my Lord comfort in me?” 

“Ah, Sweet!” he said, “such comfort that my soul 
Aches, thinking it must end, for it will end, 

And we shall both grow old, Yasodhara! 

Loveless, unlovely, weak, and old, and bowed. 

Nay, though we locked up love and life with lips 
So close that night and day our breaths grew one, 

Time would thrust in between to filch away 
My passion and thy grace, as black Night steals 
The rose-gleams from yon peak, which fade to grey 
And are not seen to fade. This have I found, 

And all my heart is darkened with its dread, 

And all my heart is fixed to think how Love 



BUDDHISM 


412 

Might save its sweetness from the slayer. Time, 

Who makes men old.” So through that night he sate 
Sleepless, uncomforted. 

And all that night 

The King Suddhodana dreamed troublous dreams. 
The jSrst fear of his vision was a flag 
Broad, glorious, glistening with a golden sun, 

The mark of Indra; but a strong wind blew. 

Rending its folds divine, and dashing it 
Into the dust; whereat a concourse came 
Of shadowy Ones, who took the spoiled silk up 
And bore it eastward from the city gates. 

The second fear was ten huge elephants. 

With silver tusks and feet that shook the earth, 
Trampling the southern road in mighty march; 

And he who sate upon the foremost beast 
Was the King’s son — the others followed him. 

The third fear of the vision was a car, 

Shining with blinding light, which four steeds drew, 
Snorting white smoke and champing fiery foam; 

And in the car the Prince Siddartha sate. 

The fourth fear was a wheel which turned and turned, 
With nave of burning gold and jewelled spokes, 

And strange things written on the binding tire, 

Which seemed both fire and music as it whirled. 

The fifth fear was a mighty drum, set down 
Midway between the city and the hills, 

On which the Prince beat with an iron mace. 

So that the sound pealed like a thunderstorm, 

Rolling around the sky and far away. 

The sixth fear was a tower, which rose and rose 
High o’er the city till its stately head 
Shone crowned with clouds, and on the top the Prince 
Stood, scattering from both hands, this way and that, 
Gems of most lovely light, as if it rained 
Jacynths and rubies; and the whole world came, 
Striving to seize those treasures as they fell 
Towards the four quarters. But the seventh fear was 
A noise of wailing, and behold six men 



THE LIGHT OF ASIA 


413 


Who wept and gnashed their teeth, and laid their palms 
Upon their mouths, walking disconsolate. 

These seven fears made the vision of his sleep, 

But none of all his wisest dream-readers 

Could tell their meaning. Then the King was wroth, 

Saying, “There cometh evil to my house, 

And none of ye have wit to help me know 
What the great gods portend sending me this.” 

So in the city men went sorrowful 
Because the King had dreamed seven signs of fear 
Which none could read; but to the gate there came 
An aged man, in robe of deer-skin clad. 

By guise a hermit, known to none; he cried, 

“Bring me before the King, for I can read 
The vision of his sleep;” who, when he heard 
The sevenfold mysteries of the midnight dream, 

Bowed reverent and said, “O Maharaj! 

I hail this favoured House, whence shall arise 
A wider-reaching splendour than the sun’s! 

Lo! all these seven fears are seven joys. 

Whereof the first, where thou didst see a flag — 

Broad, glorious, gilt with Indra’s badge — cast down 
And carried out, did signify the end 
Of old faiths and beginning of the new; 

For there is change with gods not less than men, 

And as the days pass kalpas pass — ^at length. 

The ten great elephants that shook the earth 
The ten great gifts of wisdom signify, 

In strength whereof the Prince shall quit his state 
And shake the world with passage of the Truth. 

The four flame-breathing horses of the car 
Are those four fearless virtues which shall bring 
Thy son from doubt and gloom to gladsome light; 

The wheel that turned with nave of burning gold 
Was that most precious Wheel of perfect Law 
Which he shall turn in sight of all iht world. 

The mighty drum whereon the Prince did beat, 

Till the sound filled all lands, doth signify^ 



BUDDHISM 


414 

The thunder o£ the preaching o£ the Word 
Which he shall preach; the tower that grew to heaven 
The growing o£ the Gospel o£ this Buddh 
Sets £orth; and those rare jewels scattered thence 
The untold treasures are o£ that good Law 
To gods and men dear and desirable. 

Such is the interpretation o£ the tower; 

But £or those six men weeping with shut mouths, 

They are the six chie£ teachers whom thy son 
Shall, with bright truth and speech unanswerable, 
Convince of foolishness. O King! rejoice; 

The fortune of my Lord the Prince is more 
Than kingdoms, and his hermit-rags will be 
Beyond fine cloths of gold. This was thy dream! 

And in seven nights and days these things shall fall.’* 

So spake the holy man, and lowly made 

The eight prostrations, touching thrice the ground; 

Then turned and passed; but when the King bade send 

A rich gift after him, the messengers 

Brought word, “We came to where he entered in 

At Chandra’s temple, but within was none 

Save a grey owl which fluttered from the shrine.” 

The gods come sometimes thus. 

But the sad King 

Marvelled, and gave command that new delights 
Be compassed to enthral Siddartha’s heart 
Amid those dancers of his pleasure-house; 

Also he set at all the brazen doors 
A doubled guard. 


Yet who shall shut out Fate? 

For once again the spirit of the Prince 
Was moved to see this world beyond his gates 
This life of man, so pleasant, if its waves 
Ran not to waste and woful finishing 
In Time’s dry sands. “I pray you let me view 
Our city as it is,” such was his prayer 
To King Suddhodana. “Your Majesty 



THE LIGHT OF ASIA 


415 


In tender heed hath warned the folk before 
To put away ill things and common sights, 

And make their faces glad to gladden me, 

And all the causeways gay; yet have I learned 
This is not daily life, and if I stand 
Nearest, my father, to the realm and thee. 

Fain would I know the people and the streets, 

Their simple usual ways, and workday deeds. 

And lives which those men live who are not kings. 
Give me good leave, dear Lord! to pass unknown 
Beyond my happy gardens; I shall come 
The more contented to their peace again. 

Or wiser, father, if not well content. 

Therefore, I pray thee, let me go at will 
To-morrow, with my servants, through the streets ” 
And the King said, amidst his Ministers, 

“Belike this second flight may mend the first. 

Note how the falcon starts at every sight 
New from his hood, but what a quiet eye 
Cometh of freedom; let my son see all, 

And bid them bring me tidings of his mind ” 

Thus on the morrow, when the noon was come. 
The Prince and Channa passed beyond the gates. 
Which opened to the signet of the King; 

Yet knew not they who rolled the great doors back 
It was the King’s son in that merchant’s robe. 

And in the clerkly dress his charioteer. 

Forth fared they by the common way afoot. 
Mingling with all the Sakya citizens. 

Seeing the glad and sad things of the town: 

The painted streets alive with hum of noon. 

The traders cross-legged ’mid their spice and grain. 
The buyers with their money in the cloth. 

The war of words to cheapen this or that. 

The shout to clear the road, the huge stone wheels. 
The strong slow oxen and their rustling loads. 

The singing bearers with the palanquins, 

The broad-necked hamals sweating in the sun. 



BUDDHISM 


416 

The housewives bearing water from the well 

With balanced chatties, and athwart their hips 

The black-eyed babes; the fly-swarmed sweetmeat shops, 

The weaver at his loom, the cotton-bow 

Twanging, the millstones grinding meal, the dogs 

Prowling for orts, the skilful armourer 

With tong and hammer linking shirts of mail. 

The blacksmith with a mattock and a spear 
Reddening together in his coals, the school 
Where round their Guru,^ in a grave half-moon, 

The Sakya children sang the mantras through. 

And learned the greater and the lesser gods; 

The dyers stretching waistcloths in the sun 
Wet from the vats — orange, and rose, and green; 

The soldiers clanking past with swords and shields. 

The camel-drivers rocking on the humps. 

The Brahman proud, the martial Kshatriya,^ 

The humble toiling Sudra; * here a throng 
Gathered to watch some chattering snake-tamer 
Wind round his wrist the living jewellery 
Of asp and nag, or charm the hooded death 
To angry dance with drone of beaded gourd; 

There a long line of drums and horns, which went. 

With steeds gay painted and silk canopies, 

To bring the young bride home; and here a wife 
Stealing with cakes and garlands to the god 
To pray her husband’s safe return from trade. 

Or beg a boy next birth; hard by the booths 
Where the swart potters beat the noisy brass 
For lamps and lotas; ^ thence, by temple walls 
And gateways, to the river and the bridge 
Under the city walls. 


These had they passed 

When from the roadside moaned a mournful voice, 

“Help, masters! lift me to my feet; oh, help! 

Or I shall die before I reach my house!” 

^ Hmdu religious teacher. * The lowest, fourth caste, the servant class. 

“ The second caste of warriors. * Brass pots. 



A stricken wretch it was, whose quivering fram 
Caught by some deadly plague, lay in the dust 
Writhing, with fiery purple blotches specked: 

The chill sweat beaded on his brow, his mouth 
Was dragged awry with twitchmgs of sore pai 
The wild eyes swam with inward agony. 

Gasping, he clutched the grass to rise, and rose 
Half-way, then sank, with quaking feeble limbs 
And scream of terror, crying, ‘‘Ah, the pain! 

Good people, help!” whereon Siddartha ran, 

Lifted the woful man with tender hands, 

With sweet looks laid the sick head on his knee, 
And, while his soft touch comforted the wretch. 
Asked, “Brother, what is ill with thee? what harm 
Hath fallen? wherefore can’st thou not arise? 

Why IS it, Channa, that he pants and moans, 

And gasps to speak, and sighs so pitiful?” 

Then spake the charioteer: “Great Prince! this man 
Is smitten with some pest; his elements 
Are all confounded; in his veins the blood, 

Which ran a wholesome river, leaps and boils 
A fiery flood; his heart, which kept good time, 
Beats like an ill-played drum-skin, quick and slow; 
His sinews slacken like a bowstrmg slipped; 

The strength is gone from ham, and loin, and neck. 
And all the grace and joy of manhood fled: 

This is a sick man with the fit upon him. 

See how he plucks and plucks to seize his grief. 

And rolls his bloodshot orbs, and grinds his teeth. 
And draws his breath as if ’twere choking smoke! 
Lo! now he would be dead; but shall not die 
Until the plague hath had its work in him, 

Killing the nerves which die before the life; 

Then, when his strings have cracked with agony 
And all his bones are empty of the sense 
To ache, the plague will quit and light elsewhere. 
Oh, sir! it is not good to hold him so! 

The harm may pass, and strike thee, even thee.” 
But spake the Prince, still comforting the man, 



BUDDHISM 


418 

“And are there others, are there many thus? 

Or might it be to me as now with him 
“Great Lord!” answered the charioteer, “this comes 
In many forms to all men; griefs and wounds, 
Sickness and tetters, palsies, leprosies, 

Hot fevers, watery wastings, issues, blains 
Befall all flesh and enter everywhere.” 

“Come such ills unobserved?” the Prince inquired. 
And Channa said, “Like the sly snake they come 
That stings unseen; like the striped murderer, 

Who waits to spring from the Karunda bush. 
Hiding beside the jungle path; or like 
The lightning, striking these and sparing those, 

As chance may send.” 


“Then all men live in fear?” 


“So live they, Princel” 

“And none can say, ‘I sleep 
Happy and whole to-night, and so shall wake?' ” 

“None say it ” 

“And the end of many aches, 

Which come unseen, and will come when they come, 
Is this, a broken body and sad mind. 

And so old age?” 

“Yea, if men last as long,” 

“But if they cannot bear their agonies. 

Or if they will not bear, and seek a term; 

Or if they bear, and be, as this man is. 

Too weak except for groans, and so still live. 

And growing old, grow older, then— what end?” 

“They die, Prince.” 

“Die?” 


“Yea, at the last comes Death 



THE LIGHT OF ASIA 

In whatsoever way, whatever hour. 

Some few grow old, most sujffer and fall sick. 

But all must die — behold, where comes the Deadl” 

Then did Siddartha raise his eyes, and see 
Fast pacing towards the nver-brink a band 
Of wailing people; foremost one who swung 
An earthen bowl with lighted coals; behind 
The kinsmen, shorn, with mourning marks, ungirt, 
Crying aloud, ‘'O Rama,^ Rama, hear! 

Call upon Rama, brothers;” next the bier. 

Knit of four poles with bamboos interlaced. 

Whereon lay — stark and stiff, feet foremost, lean, 
Chapfallen, sightless, hollow-flanked, a-grin. 

Sprinkled with red and yellow dust — the Dead, 

Whom at the four-went ways they turned head first, 
And crying ‘‘Rama, Rama!” carried on 
To where a pile was reared beside the stream: 

Thereon they laid him, building fuel up — 

Good sleep hath one that slumbers on that bed! 

He shall not wake for cold, albeit he lies 
Naked to all the airs — for soon they set 
The red flame to the corners four, which crept, 

And licked, and flickered, finding out his flesh 
And feeding on it with swift hissing tongues. 

And crackle of parched skin, and snap of joint; 

Till the fat smoke thinned and the ashes sank 
Scarlet and grey, with here and there a bone 
White midst the grey — the total of the man. 

Then spake the Prince: “Is this the end which comes 
To all who live?” 

“This is the end that comes 
To all,” quoth Channa; “he upon the pyre— 

Whose remnants are so petty that the crows 
Caw hungrily, then quit the fruitless feast — 

Ate, drank, laughed, loved, and lived, and liked life well. 
Then came— who knows?— some gust of jungle wind, 
'Hindu god, seventh incarnation of Vishnu. 


419 



BUDDHISM 


420 

A Stumble on the path, a taint in the tank, 

A snake’s nip, half a span of angry steel, 

A chill, a fishbone, or a falling tile. 

And life was over and the man is dead. 

No appetites, no pleasures, and no pains 
Hath such; the kiss upon his lips is nought, 

The fire-scorch nought; he smelleth not his flesh 
A-roast, nor yet the sandal and the spice 
They burn; the taste is emptied from his mouth 
The hearing of his ears is clogged, the sight 
Is blinded in his eyes; those whom he loved 
Wail desolate, for even that must go. 

The body which was lamp unto the life, 

Or worms will have a horrid feast of it. 

Here is the common destiny of flesh : 

The high and low, the good and bad, must die. 

And then, ’tis taught, begin anew and live 
Somewhere, somehow — who knows? — and so again 
The pangs, the parting, and the lighted pile: — 

Such is man’s round.” 

But lo! Siddartha turned 
Eyes gleaming with divine tears to the sky, 

Eyes lit with heavenly pity to the earth; 

From sky to earth he looked, from earth to sky. 

As if his spirit sought in lonely flight 
Some far-off vision, linking this and that, 

Lost — ^past — ^but searchable, but seen, but known. 
Then cried he, while his lifted countenance 
Glowed with the burning passion of a love 
Unspeakable, the ardour of a hope 
Boundless, insatiate: “Oh! suffering world; 

Oh! known and unknown of my common flesh, 
Caught in this common net of death and woe, 

And life which binds to both! I see, I feel 
The vastness of the' agony of earth, 

The vainness of its joys, the mockery 
Of all its best, the anguish of its worst; 

Since pleasures end in pain, and youth in age, 



THE LIGHT OF ASIA 


421 


And love in loss, and life in hateful death, 

And death in unknown lives, which will but yoke 
Men to their wheel again to whirl the round 
Of false delights and woes that are not false. 

Me too this lure hath cheated, so it seemed 
Lovely to live, and life a sunlit stream 
For ever flowing in a changeless peace; 

Whereas the foolish ripple of the flood 
Dances so lightly down by bloom and lawn 
Only to pour its crystal quicklier 
Into the foul salt sea. The veil is rent 
Which blinded me! lam as all these men 
Who cry upon their gods and are not heard, 

Or are not heeded — ^yet there must be aid! 

For them and me and all there must be help! 
Perchance the gods have need of help themselves, 
Being so feeble that when sad lips cry 
They cannot save! I would not let one cry 
Whom I could save! How can it be that Brahm 
Would make a world and keep it miserable, 

Since, if, all-powerful, he leaves it so. 

He is not good, and if not powerful, 

He is not God? — Channa! lead home again! 

It is enough! mine eyes have seen enough!” 

Which when the King heard, at the gates he set 
A triple guard; and bade no man should pass 
By day or night, issuing or entering in. 

Until the days were numbered of that dream. 

BOOK THE FOURTH 

But, when the days were numbered, then befell 
The parting of our Lord — ^which was to be — 
Whereby came wailing in the Golden Home, 

Woe to the King and sorrow o’er the land. 

But for all flesh dehverance, and that Law 
Which whoso hears — ^the same shall make him free. 



BUDDHISM 


422 

Softly the Indian night sinks on the plains 
At full moon, m the month of Chaitra Shud,^ 

When mangoes redden and the asoka buds 
Sweeten the breeze, and Rama’s birthday comes, 
And all the fields are glad and all the towns. 

Softly that night fell over Vishramvan, 

Fragrant with blooms and jewelled thick with stars, 
And cool with mountain airs sighing adown 
From snow-flats on Himala high outspread; 

For the moon swung above the eastern peaks, 
Climbing the spangled vault, and lighting clear 
Rohini’s ripples, and the hills and vales, 

And all the sleeping land; and near at hand 
Silvering those roof-tops of the pleasure-house, 
Where nothing stirred nor sign of watching was, 
Save at the outer gates, whose warders cried 
Mudra, the watchword, and the countersign 
Angana, and the watch-drums beat a round; 
Whereat the earth lay still, except for yelp 
Of prowling jackals, and the ceaseless trill 
Of crickets in the garden grounds. 


Within — 

Where the moon glittered through the lace-worked stone, 
Lighting the walls of pearl-shell and the floors 
Paved with veined marble — softly fell her beams 
On such rare company of Indian girls, 

It seemed some chamber sweet in Paradise 
Where Devis rested. All the chosen ones 
Of Prince Siddartha’s pleasure-home were there. 

The brightest and most faithful of the Court; 

Each form so lovely in the peace of sleep, 

That you had said “This is the pearl of all!” 

Save that beside her or beyond her lay 
Fairer and fairer, till the pleasured gaze 
Roamed o’er that feast of beauty as it roams 
From gem to gem in some great goldsmith-work, 

Caught by each colour till the next is seen. 

^ March-April. 



THE LIGHT OF ASIA 


423 


With careless grace they lay, their soft brown limbs 
Part hidden, part revealed; their glossy hair 
Bound back with gold or flowers, or flowing loose 
In black waves down the shapely nape and neck. 
Lulled into pleasant dreams by happy toils. 

They slept, no wearier than jewelled birds 
Which sing and love all day, then under wing 
Fold head, till morn bids sing and love again. 

Lamps of chased silver swinging from the roof 
In silver chains, and fed with perfumed oils. 

Made with the moonbeams tender lights and shades. 
Whereby were seen the perfect lines of grace. 

The bosom’s placid heave, the soft stained palms 
Drooping or clasped, the faces fair and dark. 

The great arched brows, the parted lips, the teeth 
Like pearls a rrerchant picks to make a string, 

The satm-lidded eyes, with lashes dropped 
Sweeping the delicate cheeks, the rounded wrists. 

The smooth small feet with bells and bangles decked, 
Tinkling low music where some sleeper moved. 
Breaking her smiling dream of some new dance 
Praised by the Prince, some magic ring to find, 

Some fairy love-gift. Here one lay full-length, 

Her Vina by her cheek, and in its strings 

The httle fingers still all interlaced 

As when the last notes of her light song played 

Those radiant eyes to .sleep, and sealed her own. 

Another slumbered folding in her arms 

A desert-antelope, its slender head 

Buried with black-sloped horns between her breasts, 

Soft nestling; it was eating — when both drowsed — 

Red roses, and her loosening hand still held 
A rose half-mumbled, while a rose-leaf curled 
Between the deer’s lips. Here two friends had dozed 
Together, weaving mogra-buds, which bound 
Their sister-sweetness in a starry chain. 

Linking them limb to limb and heart to heart, 

One pillowed on the blossoms, one on her. 

Another, ere she slept, was stringing stones 



BUDDHISM 


424 

To make a necklet — agate, onyx, sard, 

Coral, and moonstone — round her wrist it gleamed 
A coil of splendid colour, while she held, 

Unthreaded yet, the bead to close it up — 

Green turkis, carved with golden gods and scripts. 

Lulled by the cadence of the garden stream. 

Thus lay they on the clustered carpets, each 
A girlish rose with shut leaves, waiting dawn 
To open and make daylight beautiful. 

This was the ante-chamber of the Prince; 

But at the purdah’s fringe the sweetest slept — 

Gunga and Gotami — chief ministers 
In that still House of love. 

The purdah hung. 

Crimson and blue, with broidered threads of gold, 

Across a portal carved in sandal- wood; 

Whence by three steps the way was to the bower 
Of inmost splendour, and the marriagecouch 
Set on a dais soft with silver cloths. 

Where the foot fell as though it trod on piles 
Of neem-blooms. All the walls were plates of pearl, 

Cut shapely from the shells of Lanka’s wave; 

And o’er the alabaster roof there ran 
Rich inlayings of lotus and of bird, 

Wrought in skilled work of lazulite and jade, 

Jacynth and jasper; woven round the dome. 

And down the sides, and all about the frames 
Wherein were set the fretted lactices. 

Through which there breathed, with moonlight and cool airs, 
Scents from the shell-flowers and the jasmine sprays; 

Not bringing thither grace or tenderness 
Sweeter than shed from those fair presences 
Within the place—the beauteous Sakya Prince, 

And hers, the stately,- bright Yasodhara. 

Half risen from her soft nest at his side. 

The chuddar ^ fallen to he^ 'waist, her brow 
Laid in both palms, the lovely Princess leaned 
^ A kind of fine plain-colored shawK-^ 



THE LIGHT OF ASIA 


425 

With heaving bosom and fast-falling tears. 

Thrice with her lips she touched Siddartha’s hand, 

And at the third kiss moaned, “Awake, my Lordl 
Give me the comfort of thy speech!*' Then he: 

“What is it with thee, O my life?” but still 
She moaned anew before the words would come; 

Then spake, “Alas, my Prince! I sank to sleep 
Most happy, for the babe I bear of thee 
Quickened this eve, and at my heart there beat 
That double pulse of life and joy and love 
Whose happy music lulled me, but— aho!— 

In slumber I beheld three sights of dread. 

With thought whereof my heart is throbbing yet. 

I saw a white bull with wide-branching horns, 

A lord of pastures, pacing through the streets, 

Bearing upon his front a gem which shone 
As if some star had dropped to glitter there. 

Or like the kantha-stone the great Snake keeps 
To make bright daylight underneath the earth. 

Slow through the streets towards the gates he paced. 

And none could stay him, though there came a voice 
From Indra's temple, If ye stay him not. 

The glory of the city goeth forth.’ 

Yet none could stay him. Then I wept aloud. 

And locked my arms about his neck, and strove. 

And bade them bar the gates; but that ox-king 
Bellowed, and, lightly tossing free his crest. 

Broke from my clasp, and bursting through the bars. 

Trampled the warders down and passed away. 

The next strange dream was this: Four Presences 
Splendid, with shinmg eyes, so beautiful 
They seemed the Regents of the Earth who dwell 
On Mount Sumeru, lighting from the sky 
With retinue of countless heavenly ones. 

Swift swept unto our city, where I saw 
The golden flag of Indra on the gate 
Flutter and fall; and lo! there rose instead 
A glorious banner, all the folds whereof 
Rippled with flashing fire of rubies sewn 



BUDDHISM 


426 

Thick on the silver threads, the rays wherefrom 
Set forth new words and weighty sentences 
Whose message made all living creatures glad; 

And from the east the wind of sunrise blew 
With tender waft, opening those jewelled scrolls 
So that all flesh might read; and wondrous blooms — 
Plucked in what clime I know not — fell in showers, 
Coloured as none are coloured in our groves.” 

Then spake the Prince: “All this, my Lotus-flower! 
Was good to see.” 

“Ay, Lord,” the Princess said, 
“Save that it ended with a voice of fear 
Crying, ‘The time is nigh! the time is nighP 
Thereat the third dream came; for when I sought 
Thy side, sweet Lord! ah, on our bed there lay 
An unpressed pillow and an empty robe — 

Nothing of thee but those! — ^nothing of thee, 

Who art my life and light, my king, my world! 

And, sleeping still, I rose, and sleeping saw 
Thy belt of pearls, tied here below my breasts, 

Change to a stinging snake; my ankle-rings 
Fall ojff, my golden bangles part and fall; 

The jasmines in my hair wither to dust; 

While this our bridal-couch sank to the ground. 

And something rent the crimson purdah down: 
Then far away I heard the white bull low. 

And far away the embroidered banner flap. 

And once again that cry, ‘The time is come!’ 

But with that cry — which shakes my spirit still — 

I woke! O Prince! what may such visions mean 
Except I die, or — ^worse than any death — 

Thou shouldst forsake me, or be taken?” 

Soft 

As the last smile of sunset was the look 
Siddartha bent upon his weeping wife. 

“Comfort thee, dear!” he said, “if comfort lives 
In changeless love! for though thy dreams may be 
Shadows of things to come, and though the gods 



THE LIGHT OF ASIA 


427 

Are shaken in their seats, and though the world 
Stands nigh, perchance, to know some way of help, 

Yet, whatsoever fall to thee and me. 

Be sure I loved and love Yasodhara. 

Thou knowest how I muse these many moons, 

Seeking to save the sad earth I have seen; 

And when the time comes, that which will be will. 

But if my soul yearns sore for souls unknown, 

And if I grieve for griefs which are not mine. 

Judge how my high-wmged thoughts must hover here 
O'er all these lives that share and sweeten mine— 

So dear! and thine the dearest, gentlest, best, 

And nearest. Ah, thou mother of my babe! 

Whose body mixed with mine for this fair hope. 

When most my spirit wanders, ranging round 

The lands and seas — as full of ruth for men 

As the far-flying dove is full of ruth 

For her twin nestlings — ever it has come 

Home with glad wing and passionate plumes to thee, 

Who art the sweetness of my kind best seen. 

The utmost of their good, the tenderest 
Of all their tenderness, mine most of all. 

Therefore, whatever after this betide. 

Bethink thee of that lordly bull which lowed. 

That jewelled banner in thy dream which waved 
Its folds departing, and of this be sure, 

Always I loved and always love thee well. 

And what I sought for all sought most for thee. 

But thou, take comfort; and, if sorrow falls, 

Take comfort still m deeming there may be 
A way to peace on earth by woes of ours; 

And have with this embrace what faithful love 
Can think of thanks or frame for benison — 

Too litde, seeing love’s strong self is weak — 

Yet kiss me on the mouth, and drink these words 
From heart to heart therewith, that thou mayst know— 

What others will not — ^that I loved thee most 
Because I loved so well all hving souls. 

Now, Princess! rest; for I will rise and watch ” 



BUDDHISM 


428 

Then in her tears she slept, but sleeping sighed — 
As if that vision passed again — ^“The time! 

The time is come!” Whereat Siddartha turned, 

And, lo! the moon shone by the Crab! the stars 
In that same silver order long foretold 
Stood ranged to say, ‘‘This is the night! — choose thou 
The way of greatness or the way of good: 

To reign a King of kings, or wander lone, 

Crownless and homeless, that the world be helped.” 
Moreover, with the whispers of the gloom, 

Came to his ears again that warning song, 

As when the Devas spoke upon the wind : 

And surely Gods were round about the place 
Watching our Lord, who watched the shining stars. 

“I will depart,” he spake; “the hour is come! 

Thy tender lips, dear Sleeper, summon me 
To that which saves the earth but sunders us; 

And in the silence of yon sky I read 
My fated message flashing. Unto this 
Came I, and unto this all nights and days 
Have led me; for I will not have that crown 
Which may be mine: I lay aside those realms 
Which wait the gleaming of my naked sword: 

My chariot shall not roll with bloody wheels 
From victory to victory, till earth 
Wears the red record of my name. I choose 
To tread its paths with patient, stainless feet. 

Making its dust my bed, its loneliest wastes 
My dwelling, and its meanest things my mates; 

Clad in no prouder garb than outcasts wear, 

Fed with no meats save what the charitable 
Give of their will, sheltered by no more pomp 
Than the dim cave lends or the jungle-bush. 

This will I do because the woful cry 
Of life and all flesh living cometh up 
Into my cars, and all my soul is full 
Of pity for the sickness of this world; 

Which I will heal^ if healing may be found 



THE LIGHT OF ASIA 


429 


By uttermost renouncing and strong strife. 

For which of all the great and lesser Gods 
Have power or pity? Who hath seen them— -who? 

What have they wrought to help their worshippers? 

How hath it steaded man to pray, and pay 
Tithes of the corn and oil, to chant the charms, 

To slay the shrieking sacrifice, to rear 
The stately fane, to feed the priests, and call 
On Vishnu, Shiva, Surya,^ who save 
None^not the worthiest— -from the griefs that teach 
Those litanies of flattery and fear 
Ascending day by day, like wasted smoke? 

Hath any of my brothers ’scaped thereby 
The aches of life, the stings of love and loss, 

The fiery fever and the ague-shake, 

The slow, dull, sinking into withered age. 

The horrible dark death — and what beyond 
Waits — ^till the whirling wheel comes up again, 

And new lives bring new sorrows to be borne, 

New generations for the new desires 
Which have their end in the old mockeries? 

Hath any of my tender sisters found 
Fruit of the fast or harvest of the hymn. 

Or bought one pang the less at bearing-time 
For white curds offered and trim tulsi-leaves? 

Nay; it may be some of the Gods are good 
And evil some, but all in action weak; 

Both pitiful and pitiless, and both — 

As men are — Abound upon this wheel of change, 

Knowing the former and the after lives. 

For so our scriptures truly seem to teach. 

That — once, and wheresoe’er and whence begun — 

Life runs its rounds of living, climbing up 
From mote, and gnat, and worm, reptile, and fish, 

Bird and shagged beast, man, demon, deva, God, 

^ Vishnu, the second of the Hindu Trinity, who takes care of the universe, and who in- 
carnates as avataras to help mankind. Shiva, the third of the Trinity, the Destroyer; some- 
times regarded as the One God. (Brahma, as the creator Prajapau, lord of all creatures, is 
the other member.) Surya is the Sun-God. 



BUDDHISM 


430 

To clod and mote again; so are we kin 

To all that is; and thus, if one might save 

Man from his curse, the whole wide world should share 

The lightened horror of this ignorance 

Whose shadow is chill fear, and cruelty 

Its bitter pastime. Yea, if one might save! 

And means must be! There must be refuge! Men 
Perished in winter-winds till one smote fire 
From flint-stones coldly hiding what they held. 

The red spark treasured from the kindling sun. 

They gorged on flesh like wolves, till one sowed corn. 
Which grew a weed, yet makes the life of man; 

They mowed and babbled till some tongue struck speech. 
And patient fingers framed the lettered sound. 

What good gift have my brothers, but it came 
From search and strife and loving sacrifice ? 

If one, then, being great and fortunate. 

Rich, dowered with health and ease, from birth designed 
To rule — if he would rule — a King of kings; 

If one, not tired with life’s long day but glad 
r the freshness of its morning, one not cloyed 
With love’s delicious feasts, but hungry still; 

If one not worn and wrinkled, sadly sage. 

But joyous in the glory and the grace 
That mix with evils here, and free to choose 
Earth’s loveliest at his will: one even as I, 

Who ache not, lack not, grieve not, save with griefs 
Which are not mine, except as I am man; — 

If such a one, having so much to give. 

Gave all, laying it down for love of men. 

And thenceforth spent himself to search for truth, 
Wringing the secret of deliverance forth. 

Whether it lurk in hells or hide in heavens. 

Or hover, unrevealed, nigh unto all: 

Surely at last, far off, sometime, somewhere. 

The veil would lift for his deep-searching eyes, 

The road would open for his painful feet. 

That should be won for which he lost the world. 

And Death might find him conqueror of death. 



THE LIGHT OF ASIA 


This will I do, who have a realm to lose, 

Because I love my realm, because my heart 
Beats with each throb of all the hearts that ache. 

Known and unknown, these that are mine and those 
Which shall be mine, a thousand million more 
Saved by this sacrifice I offer now. 

Oh, summoning stars! I come? Oh, mournful earth! 

For thee and thine I lay aside my youth. 

My throne, my joys, my golden days, my nights, 

My happy palace — and thine arms, sweet Queen! 

Harder to put aside than all the rest! 

Yet thee, too, I shall save, saving this earth; 

And that which stirs within thy tender womb, 

My child, the hidden blossom of our loves, 

Whom if I wait to bless my mind will fail. 

Wife! child! father! and people! ye must share 

A little while the anguish of this hour 

That light may break and all flesh learn the Law. 

Now am I fixed, and now I will depart, 

Never to come again, till what I seek 
Be found — ^if fervent search and strife avail.” 

So, with his brow he touched her feet, and bent 
The farewell of fohd eyes, unutterable, 

Upon her sleeping face, still wet with tears; 

And thrice around the bed in reverence, 

As though it were an altar, softly stepped 
With clasped hands laid upon his beating heart, 

“For never,” spake he, “lie I there again!” 

And thrice he made to go, but thrice came back. 

So strong her beauty was, so large his love: 

Then, o’er his head drawing his cloth, he turned 
And raised the purdah’s edge: 

There diooped, close-hushed, 
In such sealed sleep as water-lilies know, 

That lovely garden of his Indian girls; 

The twin dark-petalled lotus-buds of all — 

Gunga and Gotami— on either side, 



BUDDHISM 


432 

And those, their silkdeaved sisterhood, beyond. 
'Tleasant ye are to me, sweet friends!*' he said, 

“And dear to leave; yet, if I leave ye not, 

What else will come to all of us save eld 
Without assuage and death without avail? 

Lo! as ye lie asleep so must ye lie 

A'dead; and when the rose dies where are gone 

Its scent and splendour? when the lamp is drained 

Whither is fled the flame? Press heavy. Night! 

Upon their down-dropped lids, and seal their lips, 

That no tear stay me and no faithful voice. 

For all the brighter that these made my life, 

The bitterer it is that they and I, 

And all, should live as trees do — so much spring, 

Such and such rains and frosts, such winter-times. 

And then dead leaves, with maybe spring again. 

Or axe-stroke at the root. This will not I, 

Whose life here was a God’s! — this would not I, 
Though all my days were godlike, while men moan 
Under their darkness. Therefore farewell, friends! 
While life is good to give, I give, and go 
To seek deliverance and that unknown Light!” 

Then, lightly treading where those sleepers lay, 

Into the night Siddartha passed: its eyes. 

The watchful stars, looked love on him: its breath, 
The wandering wind, kissed his robe’s fluttered fringe 
The garden-blossoms, folded for the dawn. 

Opened their velvet hearts to waft him scents 
From pink and purple censers: o’er the land. 

From Himalay unto the Indian Sea, 

A tremor spread, as if earth’s soul beneath 
Stirred with an unknown hope; and holy books — 
Which tell the story of our Lord — say, too, 

That rich celestial musics thrilled the air 
From hosts on hosts of shining ones, who thronged 
Eastward and westward, makmg bright the night — 
Northward and southward, making glad the ground. 
Also those four dread Regents of the Earth, 



THE LIGHT OF ASIA 


433 


Descending at the doorway, two by two,— - 
With their bright legions of Invisibles 
In arms of sapphire, silver, gold, and pearl— 

Watched with joined hands the Indian Prince, who stood, 
His tearful eyes raised to the stars, and lips 
Close-set with purpose of prodigious love. 

Then strode he forth into the gloom, and cried: 
“Channa, awake! and bring out Kantaka!” 

“What would my Lord?” the charioteer replied— 
Slow-rising from his place beside the gate— 

“To ride at night when all the ways are dark?” 

“Speak low,” Siddartha said: “and bring my horse. 

For now the hour is come when I should quit 
This golden prison, where my heart lives caged, 

To find the truth; which henceforth I will seek. 

For all men’s sake, until the truth be found.” 

“Alas! dear Prince,” answered the charioteer, 

“Spake then for nought those wise and holy men 
Who cast the stars, and bade us wait the time 
When King Suddhodana’s great son should rule 
Realms upon realms, and be a Lord of lords ? 

Wilt thou ride hence and let the rich world slip 
Out of thy grasp, to hold a beggar’s bowl ? 

Wilt thou go forth into the friendless waste 
That hast this Paradise of pleasures here?” 

The Prince made answer, “Unto this I came. 

And not for thrones: the kingdom that I crave 
Is more than many realms — and all things pass 
To change and death. Bring me forth Kantaka!” 

“Most honoured,” spake again the charioteer, 

“Bethink thee of my Lord thy father’s grief! 

Bethink thee of their woe whose bliss thou art— 

How shalt thou help them, first undoing them?” 
Siddartha answered, “Friend, that love is false 



BUDDHISM 


434 

Which clings to love for selfish sweets of love; 
But I, who love these more than joys of mine — 
Yea, more than joy of theirs — depart to save 
Them and all flesh, if utmost love avail: 

Go, bring me Kan taka!” 


Then Channa said, 

“Master, I go!” and forthwith, mournfully. 

Unto the stall he passed, and from the rack 
Took down the silver bit and bndle-chains, 

Breast-cord and curb, and knitted fast the straps, 

And linked the hooks, and led out Kantaka: 

Whom, tethering to the ring, he combed and dressed, 
Stroking the snowy coat to silken gloss; 

Next on the steed he laid the numdah ^ square, 

Fitted the saddlercloth across, and set 

The saddle fair, drew tight the jewelled girths, 

Buckled the breech-bands and the martingale. 

And made fall both the stirrups of worked gold. 

Then over all he cast a golden net, 

With tassels of seed-pearl and silken strings. 

And led the great horse to the palace door. 

Where stood the Prince; but when he saw his Lord, 
Right glad he waxed and joyously he neighed, 
Spreading his scarlet nostrils; and the books 
Write, “Surely all had heard Kantaka’s neigh, 

And that strong trampling of his iron heels, 

Save that the Devas laid soft unseen wings 
Over their ears, and kept the sleepers deaf.” 

Fondly Siddartha drew the proud head down, 
Patted the shining neck, and said, “Be still, 

White Kantaka! be still, and bear me now 
The farthest journey ever rider rode; 

For this night take I horse to find the truth, 

And where my quest will end yet know I not, 

Save that it shall not end until I find. 

Therefore to-night, good steed, be fierce and bold! 

^ Coarse woolen cloth below the saddle. 



THE LIGHT OF ASIA 


435 


Let nothing stay thee, though a thousand blades 
Deny the road! let neither wall nor moat 
Forbid our flight! Look! if I touch thy flank 
And cry, ‘On, Kantaka!’ let whirlwinds lag 
Behind thy course! Be fire and air, my horse! 

To stead thy Lord; so shalt thou share with him 
The greatness of this deed which helps the world; 

For therefore ride I, not for men alone. 

But for all things which, speechless, share our pain 
And have no hope, nor wit to ask for hope. 

Now, therefore, bear thy master valorously!” 

Then to the saddle lightly leaping, he 
Touched the arched crest, and Kantaka sprang forth 
With armed hoofs sparkling on the stones, and ring 
Of champing bit; but none did hear that sound. 

For that the Suddha Devas, gathering near, 

Plucked the red mohra-flowers and strewed them thick 
Under his tread, while hands invisible 
Muffled the ringing bit and bridle-chains. 

Moreover, it is written when they came 
Upon the pavement near the inner gates, 

The Yakshas ^ of the air laid magic cloths 
Under the stallion’s feet, so that he went 
Softly and still. 

But when they reached the gate 
Of tripled brass — which hardly fivescore men 
Served to unbar and open — ^lo! the doors 
Rolled back all silently, though one might hear 
In daytime two koss off the thunderous roar 
Of those grim hinges and unwieldy plates. 

Also the middle and the outer gates 
Unfolded each their monstrous portals thus 
In silence, as Siddartha and his steed 
Drew near; while underneath their shadow lay. 

Silent as dead men, all those chosen guards — 

The lance and sword let fall, the shields unbraced, 

^ Goblms, spints. 



BUDDHISM 


436 

Captains and soldiers — ^for there came a wind, 
Drowsier than blows o’er Malwa’s fields of sleep, 
Before the Prince’s path, which, being breathed, 
Lulled every sense aswoon : and so he passed 
Free from the palace. 

When the morning star 
Stood half a spear’s length from the eastern rim, 
And o’er the earth the breath of morning sighed, 
Rippling Anoma’s wave, the border-stream, 

Then drew he rein, and leaped to earth, and kissed 
White Kantaka betwixt the ears, and spake 
Full sweet to Channa; “This which thou hast done 
Shall bring thee good, and bring all creatures good: 
Be sure I love thee always for thy love. 

Lead back my horse, and take my crest-pearl here. 

My princely robes, which henceforth stead me not, 

My jewelled sword-belt and my sword, and these 
The long locks by its bright edge severed thus 
From oS my brows. Give the King all, and say 
Siddartha prays forget him till he come 
Ten times a Prince, with royal wisdom won 
From lonely searchings and the strife for light; 
Where, if I conquer, lo! all earth is mine— • 

Mine by chief service! — ^tell him— mine by love! 

Since there is hope for man only in man, 

And none hath sought for this as I will seek. 

Who cast away my world to save my world.” 

BOOK THE FIFTH 

Round Raj agriha five fair hills arose, 

Guarding King Bimbisara’s sylvan town; 

Baibh^a, green with lemon-grass and palms; 

Bipulla, at whose foot thin Sarsuti 
Steals with warm ripple; shadowy Tapovan, 

Whose steaming pools mirror black rocks, which ooze 
Sovereign earth-butter from their rugged roofs; 
South-east the vulture-peak Sailagiri; 

And eastward Ratnagiri, hill of gems. 



THE LIGHT OF ASIA 


A winding track, paven with footworn slabs, 

Leads thee, by safflower fields and bamboo tufts, 
Under dark mangoes and the jujube-trees, 

Past milk-white veins of rock and jasper crags, 

Low cliff and flats of jungle-flowers, to where 
The shoulder of that mountain, sloping west, 
O’erhangs a cave with wild figs canopied. 

Lo! thou who comest thither, bare thy feet 
And bow thy head! for all this spacious earth 
Hath not a spot more dear and hallowed. Here 
Lord Buddha sate the scorching summers through. 
The driving rains, the chilly dawns and eves; 
Wearing for all men’s sakes the yellow robe, 

Eating in beggar’s guise the scanty meal 
Chance-gathered from the charitable; at night 
Couched on the grass, homeless, alone; while yelped 
The sleepless jackals round his cave, or coughs 
Of famished tiger from the thicket broke. 

By day and night here dwelt the World-honoured, 

Subduing that fair body born for bliss 

With fast and frequent watch and search intense 

Of silent meditation, so prolonged 

That ofttimes while he mused — ^as motionless 

As the fixed rock his seat — the squirrel leaped 

Upon his knee, the timid quail led forth 

Her brood between his feet, and blue doves pecked 

The rice-grains from the bowl beside his hand. 

Thus would he muse from noontide — when the land 
Shimmered with heat, and walls and temples danced 
In the reeking air — till sunset, noting not 
The blazing globe roll down, nor evening glide. 

Purple and swift, across the softened fields; 

Nor the still coming of the stars, nor throb 
Of drum-skins in the busy -town, nor screech 
Of owl and night-jar; wholly wrapt from self 
In keen unravelling of the threads of thought 
And steadfast pacing of life’s labyrinths. 

Thus would he sit till midnight hushed the world, 



438 BUDDHISM 

Save 'where the beasts of darkness in the brake 
Crept and cried out, as fear and hatred cry, 

As lust and avarice and anger creep 
In the black jungles of man’s ignorance. 

Then slept he for what space the fleet moon asks 
To swim a tenth part of her cloudy sea; 

But rose ere the False-dawn, and stood again 
Wistful on some dark platform of his hill, 

Watching the sleeping earth with ardent eyes 
And thoughts embracing all its living things; 

While o’er the waving fields that murmur moved 
Which is the kiss of Morn waking the lands, 

And in the east that miracle of Day 
Gathered and grew. At first a dusk so dim 
Night seems still unaware of whispered dawn, 

But soon — ^before the jungle-cock crows twice — 

A white verge clear, a widening, brightening white, 
High as the herald-star, which fades in floods 
Of silver, warming into pale gold, caught 
By topmost clouds, and flaming on their rims 
To fervent golden glow, flushed from the brmk 
With saffron, scarlet, crimson, amethyst; 

Whereat the sky burns splendid to the blue. 

And, robed in raiment of glad light, the King 
Of Life and Glory comethl 

Then our Lord, 

After the manner of a Rishi, hailed 

The rising orb, and went — ^ablutions made — 

Down by the winding path unto the town; 

And in the fashion of a Rishi passed 

From street to street, with begging-bowl in hand, 

Gathering the little pittance of his needs. 

Soon was it filled, for all the townsmen cried, 
‘"Take of our store, great sir!’* and “Take of ours!” 
Marking his godlike face and eyes enwrapt; 

And mothers, v/hen they saw our Lord go by, 

Would bid their children fall to kiss his feet, 

And lift his robe’s hem to their brows, or run 



THE LIGHT OF ASIA 


To fill his jar, and fetch him milk and cakes. 

And ofttimes as he paced, gentle and slow, 

Radiant with heavenly pity, lost in care 
For those he knew not, save as fellow-lives. 

The dark surprised eyes of some Indian maid 

Would dwell in sudden love and worship deep 

On that majestic form, as if she saw 

Her dreams of tenderest thought made true, and grace 

Fairer than mortal fire her breast. But he 

Passed onward with the bowl and yellow robe, 

By mild speech paymg all those gifts of hearts. 

Wending his way back to the solitudes 
To sit upon his hill with holy men, 

And hear and ask of wisdom and its roads. 

Midway on Ratnagiri’s groves of calm, 

Beyond the city, but below the caves. 

Lodged such as hold the body foe to soul. 

And flesh a beast which men must chain and tame 
With bitter pains, till sense of pain is killed, 

And tortured nerves vex torturer no more: 

Yogis and Brahmacharis,^ Bhikshus,^ aU 
A gaunt and mournful band, dwelling apart. 

Some day and night had stood with lifted arms. 

Till — drained of blood and withered by disease — 

Their slowly wasting joints and stiffened limbs 
Jutted from sapless shoulders like dead forks 
From forest trunks. Others had clenched their hands 
So long and with so fierce a fortitude. 

The claw-like nails grew through the festered palm. 

Some walked on sandals spiked; some with sharp flints 
Gashed breast and brow and thigh, scarred these with fire, 
Threaded their flesh with jungle thorns and spits, 
Besmeared with mud and ashes, crouching foul 
In rags of dead men wrapped about their loins. 

Certain there were inhabited the spots 
Where death-pyres smouldered, cowering defiled 
^ Brahmana students. ® Monks, devotees. 



BUDDHISM 


440 

With corpses for their company, and kites 
Screaming around them o’er the funeral-spoils : 
Certain who cried five hundred times a day 
The names of Shiva, knit with hissing snakes 
About their sun-tanned necks and hollow flanks, 
One palsied foot drawn up against the ham. 

So gathered they, a grievous company; 

Crowns blistered by the blazing heat, eyes bleared, 
Sinews and muscles shrivelled, visages 
Haggard and wan as slam men’s, five days dead; 
Here crouched one in the dust who noon by noon 
Meted a thousand grains of millet out. 

Ate it with famished patience, seed by seed, 

And so starved on; there one who bruised his pulse 
With bitter leaves lest palate should be pleased; 

And next, a miserable samt self -maimed, 

Eyeless and tongueless, sexless, crippled, deaf; 

The body by the mind being thus stripped 
For glory of much suffering, and the bliss 
Which they shall win — say holy books — whose woe 
Shames gods that send us woe, and makes men gods 
Stronger to suffer than Hell is to harm. 

Whom sadly eyeing spake our Lord to one, 

Chief of the woe-begones: “Much-suffering sir! 
These many moons I dwell upon the hill — 

Who am a seeker of the Truth — and see 
My brothers here, and thee, so piteously 
Self -anguished; wherefore add ye ills to life 
Which IS so evil?” 


Answer made the sage: 

“ ’Tis written if a man shall mortify 
His flesh) till pain be grown the life he lives 
And death voluptuous rest, such woes shall purge 
Sin’s dross awa'y, and the soul, purified, 

Soar from the furnace of its sorrow, winged 

For glorious spheres and splendour past all thought.” 



THE LIGHT OF ASIA 


441 


“Yon cloud which floats in heaven/’ the Prince replied, 
“Wreathed like gold cloth around your Indra’s throne, 
Rose thither from the tempest-driven sea; 

But it must fall again in tearful drops. 

Trickling through rough and painful water-ways 
By cleft and nullah and the muddy flood. 

To Gunga and the sea, wherefrom it sprang. 

Know’st thou, my brother, if it be not thus. 

After their many pains, with saints in bliss ? 

Since that which rises falls, and that which buys 
Is spent; and if ye buy heav’n with your blood 
In hell’s hard market, when the bargain’s through 
The toil begins again!” 


“It may begin,” 

The hermit moaned. “Alas! we know not this, 
Nor surely anything; yet after night 
Day comes, and after turmoil peace, and we 
Hate this accursed flesh which clogs the soul 
That fain would rise; so, for the sake of soul. 
We stake brief agonies in game with Gods 
To gain the larger joys.” 


“Yet if they last 

A myriad years,” he said, “they fade at length. 

Those joys; or if not, is there then some life 
Below, above, beyond, so unlike life 
It will not change? Speak! do your Gods endure 
For ever, brothers?” 

“Nay,” the Yogis said, 

“Only great Brahm endures: the Gods but live.” 

Then spake Lord Buddha: “Will ye, being wise. 

As ye seem holy and strong-hearted ones, 

Throw these sore dice, which are your groans and moans. 
For gains which may be dreams, and must have end ? 
Will ye, for love of soul, so loathe your flesh, 

So scourge and maim it, that it shall not serve 
To bear the spirit on, searching for home, 



BUDDHISM 


442 

But founder on the track before night-fall. 

Like willing steed o’er-spurred ? Will ye, sad sirs! 
Dismantle and dismember this fair house. 

Where we have come to dwell by painful pasts; 

Whose windows give us light — the little light — 

Whereby we gaze abroad to know if dawn 
Will break, and whither winds the better road?” 

Then cried they, “We have chosen this for road 
And tread it, Rajaputra! ^ till the close — 

Though all its stones were fire — in trust of death. 

Speak, if thou know’st a way more excellent; 

If not, peace go with thee!” 

Onward he passed, 
Exceeding sorrowful, seeing how men 
Fear so to die they are afraid to fear, 

Lust so to live they dare not love their life, 

But plague it with fierce penances, belike 
To please the Gods who grudge pleasure to man; 

Belike to baulk hell by self-kindled hells; 

Belike in holy madness, hoping soul 

May break the better through their wasted flesh. 

“Oh, flowerets of the field!” Siddartha said, 

“Who turn your tender faces to the sun — 

Glad of the light, and grateful with sweet breath 
Of fragrance and these robes of reverence donned 
Silver and gold and purple — ^none of ye 
Miss perfect living, none of ye despoil 
Your happy beauty. Oh, ye palms! which rise 
Eager to pierce the sky and drink the wind 
Blown from Malaya and the cool blue seas, 

What secret know ye that ye grow content, 

From time of tender shoot to time of fruit. 

Murmuring such sun-songs from your feathered crowns? 
Ye, too, who dwell so merry in the trees — 

Quick-darting parrots, bee-birds, bulbuls, doves — 

None of ye hate your life, none of ye deem 
^ Son oi a king, piincc; “putra” means son. 



THE LIGHT OF ASIA 


443 


To strain to better by foregoing needs! 

But man, who slays ye— being lord— is wise, 

And wisdom, nursed on blood, cometh thus forth 
In sclf-tormentmgs!” 


While the Master spake 
Blew down the mount the dust of pattering feet, 

White goats and black sheep winding slow their way, 
With many a lingering nibble at the tufts. 

And wanderings from the path, where water gleamed 
Or wild figs hung. But always as they strayed 
The herdsman cried, or slung his sling, and kept 
The silly crowd still moving to the plain. 

A ewe with couplets in the flock there was. 

Some hurt had lamed one lamb, which toiled behind 
Bleeding, while in the front its fellow skipped. 

And the vexed dam hither and thither ran. 

Fearful to lose this little one or that; 

Which when our Lord did mark, full tenderly 
He took the limping lamb upon his neck. 

Saying, 'Toor woolly mother, be at peace! 

Whither thou goest I will bear thy care; 

’Twere all as good to ease one beast of grief 
As sit and watch the sorrows of the world 
In yonder caverns with the priests who pray.” 

“But,” spake he to the herdsmen, “wherefore, friends! 
Drive ye the flocks adown under high noon, 

Since ’tis at evening that men fold their sheep.?” 

And answer gave the peasants: “We are sent 
To fetch a sacrifice of goats five-score, 

And five-score sheep, the which our Lord the King 
Slayeth this night in worship of his gods.” 

Then said the Master: “I will also go!” 

So paced he patiently, bearing the lamb 
Beside the herdsmen in the dust and sun, 

The wistful ewe low bleating at his feet. 



BUDDHISM 


444 

Whom, when they came unto the river-side 
A woman — dove-eyed, young, with tearful face 
And lifted hands— saluted, bending low: 

“Lord! thou art he,” she said, “who yesterday 
Had pity on me in the fig-grove here, 

Where I live lone and reared my child; but he 
Straying amid the blossoms found a snake. 

Which twined about his wrist, whilst he did laugh 
And tease the quick-forked tongue and opened mouth 
Of that cold playmate. But, alas! ere long 
He turned so pale and still, I could not think 
Why he should cease to play, and let my breast 
Fall from his lips. And one said, ‘He is sick 
Of poison’; and another, ‘He will die.’ 

But I, who could not lose my precious boy, 

Prayed of them physic, which might bring the light 
Back to his eyes; it was so very small 
That kiss-mark of the serpent, and I think 
It could not hate him, gracious as he was, 

Nor hurt him in his sport. And some one said, 

‘There is a holy man upon the hill — 

Lo! now he passeth in the yellow robe — 

Ask of the Rishi if there be a cure 

For that which ails thy son.’ Whereon I came 

Trembling to thee, whose brow is like a god’s, 

And wept and drew the face-cloth from my babe, 
Praying thee tell what simples might be good. 

And thou, great sir! didst spurn me not, but gaze 
With gentle eyes and touch with patient hand; 

Then draw the face-cloth back, saying to me, 

‘Yea! little sister, there is that might heal 
Thee first, and him, if thou couldst fetch the thing; 
For they who seek physicians bring to them 
What is ordained. Therefore, I pray thee, find 
Black mustard-seed, a tola; only mark 
Thou take it not from any hand or house 
Where father, mother, child, or slave hath died: 

It shall be well if thou canst find such seed.’ 

Thus didst thou speak, my Lord!” 



THE LIGHT OF ASIA 


445 


The Master smiled 

Exceeding tenderly. “Yea! I spake thus, 

Dear Kisagotami! ^ But didst thou find 
The seed?” 

“I went, Lord, clasping to my breast 
The babe, grown colder, asking at each hut— 

Here in the jungle and towards the town— 

1 pray you, give me mustard, of your grace, 

A tola — ^black’; and each who had it gave. 

For all the poor are piteous to the poor; 

But when I asked, ‘In my friend’s household here 
Hath any peradventure ever died — 

Husband, or wife, or child, or slave?’ they said: 

‘O Sister I what is this you ask? the dead 
Are very many, and the living few!’ 

So with sad thanks I gave the mustard back. 

And prayed of others; but the others said, 

‘Here is the seed, but we have lost our slave!* 

‘Here is the seed, but our good man is dead!’ 

‘Here is some seed, but he that sowed it died 
Between the rain-time and the harvesting!’ 

Ah, sir! I could not find a single house 
Where there was mustard-seed and none had died! 

Therefore I left my child — who would not suck 
Nor smile — ^beneath the wild-vmes by the stream, 

To seek thy face and kiss thy feet, and pray 
Where I might find this seed and find no death, 

If now, indeed, my baby be not dead. 

As I do fear, and as they said to me.” 

“My sister! thou hast found,” the Master said, 

“Searching for what none finds — that bitter balm 

I had to give thee. He thou lovedst slept 

Dead on thy bosom yesterday: to-day 

Thou know’st the whole wide world weeps with thy woe; 

The grief which all hearts share grows less for one. 

Lo! I would pour my blood if it could stay 
Thy tears and win the secret of that curse 

^ See story of Kisa Qotgmi, in the section, Some Buddhist Parables and Legends, 



BUDDHISM 


446 

Which makes sweet love our anguish, and which drives— 
O’er flowers and pastures to the sacrifice — 

As these dumb beasts are driven — men their lords. 

I seek that secret: bury thou thy child!” 

So entered they the city side by side, 

The herdsmen and the Prince, what time the sun 
Gilded slow Sona’s distant stream, and threw 
Long shadows down the street and through the gate 
Where the King’s men kept watch. But when these saw 
Our Lord bearing the lamb, the guards stood back, 

The market'people drew their wains aside, 

In the bazaar buyers and sellers stayed 
The war of tongues to gaze on that mild face; 

The smith, with lifted hammer in his hand, 

Forgot to strike; the weaver left his web. 

The scribe his scroll, the money-changer lost 
His count of cowries; from the unwatched rice 
Shiva’s white bull fed free; the wasted milk 
Ran o’er the lota while the milkers watched 
The passage of our Lord moving so meek, 

With yet so beautiful a majesty. 

But most the women gathering in the doors 
Asked, “Who is this that brings the sacrifice 
So graceful and peace-giving as he goes ? 

What is his caste.? whence hath he eyes so sweet? 

Can he be Sakra ^ or the Devaraj ® ?” 

And others said, “It is the holy man 
Who dwelled! with the Rishis on the hill.” 

But the Lord paced, in meditation lost, 

Thinking, “Alas! for all my sheep which have 
No shepherd; wandering in the night with none 
To guide them; bleating blindly towards the knife 
Of Death, as these dumb beasts which are their kin ” 

Then some one told the King, “There cometh here 
A holy hermit, bringing down the flock 
Which thou didst bid to crown thy sacrifice.” 

^ Another name for Indra. ® Devaraj, ruler of the gods. 



THE LIGHT OF ASIA 


447 


The King stood in his hall of offering, 

On either hand the white-robed Brahmans ranged 
Muttered their mantras, feeding still the fire 
Which roared upon the midmost altar. There 
From scented woods flickered bright tongues of flame, 
Hissing and curling as they licked the gifts 
Of ghee and spices and the Soma juice, 

The joy of Indra. Round about the pile 
A slow, thick, scarlet streamlet smoked and ran, 
Sucked by the sand, but ever rolling down, 

The blood of bleating victims. One such lay, 

A spotted goat, long-horned, its head bound back 

With munja grass; at its stretched throat the knife 

Pressed by a priest, who murmured, “This, dread gods, 

Of many yajnas ^ cometh as the crown 

From Bimbisara: take ye joy to see 

The spirted blood, and pleasure in the scent 

Of rich flesh roasting ’mid the fragrant flames; 

Let the King’s sins be laid upon this goat, 

And let the fire consume them burning it. 

For now I strike.” 

But Buddha softly said, 

“Let him not strike, great King*” and therewith loosed 
The victim’s bonds, none staying him, so great 
His presence was. Then, craving leave, he spake 
Of life, which all can take but none can give. 

Life, which all creatures love and strive to keep, 
Wonderful, dear, and pleasant unto each, 

Even to the meanest; yea, a boon to all 
Where pity is, for pity makes the world 
Soft to the weak and noble for the strong. 

Unto the dumb lips of his flock he lent 

Sad pleading words, showing how man, who prays 

For mercy to the gods, is merciless. 

Being as god to those; albeit all life 
Is linked and km, and what we slay have given 
Meek tribute of the milk and wool, and set 
^ Sacrifices. 



BUDDHISM 


448 

Fast trust upon the hands which murder them. 

Also he spake of what the holy books 

Do surely teach^ how that at death some sink 

To bird and beast, and these rise up to man 

In wanderings of the spark which grows purged flame. 

So were the sacrifice new sin, if so 

The fated passage of a soul be stayed. 

Nor, spake he, shall one wash his spirit clean 
By blood; nor gladden gods, being good, with blood; 
Nor bribe them, being evil; nay, nor lay 
Upon the brow of innocent bound beasts 
One hair’s weight of that answer all must give 
For all things done amiss or wrongfully. 

Alone, each for himself, reckoning with that 
The fixed arithmic of the universe. 

Which meteth good for good and ill for ill. 

Measure for measure, unto deeds, words, thoughts; 
Watchful, aware, implacable, unmoved; 

Making all futures fruits of all the pasts. 

Thus spake he, breathing words so piteous. 

With such high lordliness of ruth and right. 

The priests drew down their garments o’er the hands 
Crimsoned with slaughter, and the King came near, 
Standing with clasped palms reverencing Buddh; 
While still our Lord went on, teaching how fair 
This earth were if all living things be linked 
In friendliness and common use of foods, 

Bloodless and pure; the golden grain, bright fruits, 
Sweet herbs which grow for all, the waters wan, 
Sujfficient drinks and meats. Which when these heard, 
The might of gentleness so conquered them, 

The priests themselves scattered their altar-flames 
And flung away the steel of sacrifice; 

And through the land next day passed a decree 
Proclaimed by criers, and in this wise graved 
On rock and column: “Thus the King’s will is:— 
There hath been slaughter for the sacrifice 
And slaying for the meat, but henceforth none 
Shall spill the blood of life nor taste of flesh. 



THE LIGHT OF ASIA 


449 


Seeing that knowledge grows, and life is one, 

And mercy cometh to the merciful ” 

So ran the edict, and from those days forth 
Sweet peace hath spread between all living kind, 

Man and the beasts which serve him, and the birds, 
On all those banks of Gunga where our Lord 
Taught with his saintly pity and soft speech. 

For aye so piteous was the Master’s heart 
To all that breathe this breath of fleeting life, 

Yoked in one fellowship of joys and pains. 

That it is written in the holy books 
How, in an ancient age — when Buddha wore 
A Brahman’s form, dwelling upon the rock 
Named Munda, by the village of Dalidd — 

Drought withered all the land : the young rice died 
Ere it could hide a quail; in forest glades 
A fierce sun sucked the pools; grasses and herbs 
Sickened, and all the woodland creatures fled 
Scattering for sustenance. At such a time, 

Between the hot walls of a nullah, stretched 
On naked stones, our Lord spied, as he passed, 

A starving tigress. Hunger in her orbs 

Glared with green flame; her dry tongue lolled a span 

Beyond the gasping jaws and shrivelled jowl: 

Her painted hide hung wrinkled on her ribs, 

As when between the rafters sinks a thatch 
Rotten with rains; and at the poor lean dugs 
Two cubs, whining with famine, tugged and sucked. 
Mumbling those milkless teats which rendered nought; 
While she, their gaunt dam, licked full motherly 
The clamorous twins, and gave her flank to them 
With moaning throat, and love stronger than want, 
Softening the first of that wild cry wherewith 
She laid her famished muzzle to the sand 
And roared a savage thunder-peal of woe. 

Seeing which bitter strait, and heeding nought 
Save the immense compassion of a Buddh, 

Our Lord bethought: “There is no other way 



BUDDHISM 


450 

To help this murderess of the woods but one. 

By sunset these will die, having no meat : 

There is no living heart will pity her, 

Bloody with ravin, lean for lack of blood. 

Lo! if I feed her, who shall lose but I, 

And how can love lose doing of its kind 
Even to the uttermost?” So saying, Buddh 
Silently laid aside sandals and staff, 

His sacred thread, turban, and cloth, and came 
Forth from behind the milk-bush on the sand. 
Saying, '‘Ho! mother, here is meat for thee!” 
Whereat the perishing beast yelped hoarse and shrill, 
Sprang from her cubs, and, hurling to the earth 
That willing victim, had her feast of him 
With all the crooked daggers of her claws 
Rending his flesh, and all her yellow fangs 
Bathed in his blood: the great cat’s burning breath 
Mixed with the last sigh of such fearless love. 

Thus large the Master’s heart was long ago, 

Not only now, when with his gracious ruth 
He bade cease cruel worship of the Gods. 

And much King Bimbisara prayed our Lord — 
Learning his royal birth and holy search — 

To tarry in that city, saying oft, 

“Thy princely state may not abide such fasts; 

Thy hands were made for sceptres, not for alms. 
Sojourn with me, who have no son to rule. 

And teach my kingdom wisdom, till I die, 

Lodged in my palace with a beauteous bride.” 

But ever spake Siddartha, of set mind: 

“These things I had, most noble King, and left. 
Seeking the truth; which still I seek, and shall; 

Not to be stayed though Sakra’s palace ope’d 
Its doors of pearl and Devis ^ wooed me in. 

I go to build the Kingdom of the Law, 

Journeying to Gaya and the forest shades, 

Where, as I think, the light will come to me; 

^ Feminmc celestial spirits, 



THE LIGHT OF ASIA 


For nowise here among the Rishis comes 
That light, nor from the Shasters/ nor from fasts 
Borne till the body faints, starved by the soul. 

Yet there is light to reach and truth to win; 

And surely, O true Friend, if I attain 
I will return and quit thy love.” 

Thereat 

Thrice round the Prince King Bimbisara paced, 
Reverently bending to the Master’s feet. 

And bade him speed. So passed our Lord away 
Towards Uravilva, not yet comforted. 

And wan of face, and weak with six years’ quest. 

But they upon the hill and in the grove — 

Alara, Udra, and the ascetics five — 

Had stayed him, saying all was written clear 
In holy Shasters, and that none might win 
Higher than Sruti^ and than Smriti^ — ^nay, 

Not the chief saints! — for how should mortal man 
Be wiser than the Jnana-Kand,^ which tells 
That Brahm is bodiless and actionless. 

Passionless, calm, unqualified, unchanged, 

Pure life, pure thought, pure joy? Or how should man 
Be better than the Karmma-Kand,® which shows 
How he may strip passion and action off. 

Break from the bond of self, and so, unsphered, 

Be God, and melt into the vast divine; 

Flying from false to true, from wars of sense 
To peace eternal, where the Silence lives? 

But the Prince heard them, not yet comforted. 

BOOK THE SIXTH 

Thou, who wouldst see where dawned the light at last, 
North-westwards from the “Thousand Gardens” go 

^ Also shastra, sastra, a Hindu sacred book, particularly a book of laws. 
® The Vedas, orally handed down and considered as divine revelation. 

® Name of a religious scripture. 

* The knowledge portion of the Vedas, 

® The ritualistic pornon of the Ved^, 



BUDDHISM 


452 

By Gunga’s valley till thy steps be set 

Oi i the green hills where those twin streamlets spring, 

N)lajan and Mohana; follow them, 

Winding beneath broad-leaved mahua-trees, 

’Mid thickets of the sansar and the bir, 

Till on the plain the shining sisters meet 
In Phalgu’s bed, flowing by rocky banks 
To Gaya and the red Barabar hills. 

Hard by that river spreads a thorny waste, 
Uruwelaya named in ancient days, 

With sandhills broken; on its verge a wood 
Waves sea-green plumes and tassels thwart the sky, 
With undergrowth wherethrough a still flood steals, 
Dappled with lotus-blossoms, blue and white, 

And peopled with quick fish and tortoises. 

Near it the village of Senani reared 
Its roofs of grass, nestled amid the palms, 

Peaceful with simple folk and pastoral toils. 

There in the sylvan solitudes once more 
Lord Buddha lived, musing the woes of men, 

The ways of fate, the doctrines of the books, 

The lessons of the creatures of the brake, 

The secrets of the silence whence all come. 

The secrets of the gloom whereto all go, 

The life which lies between, like that arch flung 
From cloud to cloud across the sky, which hath 
Mists for its masonry and vapoury piers, 

Melting to void again which was so fair 
With sapphire hues, garnet, and chrysoprase. 

Moon after moon our Lord sate in the wood, 

So meditating these that he forgot 
Ofttimes the hour of food, rising from thoughts 
Prolonged beyond the sunrise and the noon, 

To see his bowl unfilled, and eat perforce 
Of wild fruit fallen from the boughs o’erhead, 
Shaken to earth by chattering ape or plucked 
By purple parakeet. Therefore his grace 
Faded; his body, worn by stress of soul, 



THE LIGHT OF ASIA 


453 


Lost day by day the marks, thirty and two, 

Which testify the Buddha. Scarce that leaf, 
Fluttering so dry and withered to his feet 
From off the sal-branch, bore less likeliness 
Of spring’s soft greenery than he of him 
Who was the princely flower of all his land. 

And once, at such a time, the o’erwrought Prince 
Fell to the earth in deadly swoon, all spent, 

Even as one slain, who hath no longer breath 
Nor any stir of blood; so wan he was, 

So motionless. But there came by that way 
A shepherd-boy, who saw Siddartha lie 
With lids fast-closed, and lines of nameless pain 
Fixed on his lips — the fiery noonday sun 
Beating upon his head — ^who, plucking boughs 
From wild rose-apple trees, knitted them thick 
Into a bower to shade the sacred face. 

Also he poured upon the Master’s lips 

Drops of warm milk, pressed from his she-goat’s bag, 

Lest, being low caste, he, by touching, wrong one 

So high and holy seeming. But the books 

Tell how the jambu-branches, planted thus, 

Shot with quick life, in wealth of leaf and flower, 
And glowing fruitage interlaced and close, 

So that the bower grew like a tent of silk 
Pitched for a king at hunting, decked with studs 
Of silver-work and bosses of red gold. 

And the boy worshipped, deeming him some God; 
But our Lord gaining breath, arose and asked 
Milk in the shepherd’s lota. “Ah, my Lord, 

I cannot give thee,” quoth the lad; “thou seest 
I am a Sudra,^ and my touch defiles!” 

Then the World-honoured spake: “Pity and need 
Make all flesh kin. There is no caste in blood. 

Which runneth of one hue, nor caste in tears. 

Which trickle salt with all; neither comes man 
To birth with tilka-mark stamped on the brow, 

^ The lowest caste. 



BUDDHISM 


454 

Nor sacred thread on neck. Who doth right deed 
Is twice-born, and who doeth ill deeds vile. 

Give me to drink, my brother; when I come 
Unto my quest it shall be good for thee.” 

Thereat the peasant’s heart was glad, and gave. 

And on another day there passed that road 
A band of tinselled girls, the nautch-dancers 
Of Indra’s temple in the town, with those 
Who made their music — one that beat a drum 
Set round with peacock-feathers, one that blew 
The piping bansuli, and one that twitched 
A three-string sitar. Lightly tripped they down 
From ledge to ledge and through the chequered paths 
To some gay festival, the silver bells 
Chiming soft peals about the small brown feet, 
Armlets and wrist-rings tattling answer shrill; 

While he that bore the sitar thrummed and twanged 
His threads of brass, and she beside him sang — 

"'Fair goes the dancing when the sitar* s tuned; 

Tune us the sitar neither low nor high, 

And we will dance away the hearts of men. 

The string o*er stretched breaks, and the music flies; 
The string o*erslac\ is dumb, and music dies; 

Tune us the sitar neither low nor high!' 

So sang the nautch-girl to the pipe and wires, 
Fluttering like some vain, painted butterfly 
From glade to glade along the forest path, 

Nor dreamed her light words echoed on the ear 
Of him, that holy man, who sate so rapt 
Under the fig-tree by the path. But Buddh 
Lifted his great brow as the wantons passed, 

And spake: “The foolish ofttimes teach the wise; 

I strain too much this string of life, belike, 

Meaning to make such music as shall save. 

Mine eyes are dim now that they see the truth, 



THE LIGHT OF ASIA 


455 


My strength is waned now that my need is most; 
Would that I had such help as man must have, 

For I shall die, whose life was all men’s hope.” 

Now, by that river dwelt a landholder 
Pious and rich, master of many herds, 

A goodly chief, the friend of all the poor; 

And from his house the village drew its name — 
“Senani.” Pleasant and in peace he lived. 

Having for wife Sujata, loveliest 

Of all the dark-eyed daughters of the plain; 

Gentle and true, simple and kind was she. 

Noble of mien, with gracious speech to all 
And gladsome looks — a pearl of womanhood — 
Passing calm years of household happiness 
Beside her lord in that still Indian home. 

Save that no male child blessed their wedded love. 
Wherefore, with many prayers she had besought 
Lukshmi; and many nights at full-moon gone 
Round the great Lingam, nine times nine, with gifts 
Of rice and jasmine wreaths and sandal oil 
Praying a boy; also Sujata vowed— 

If this should be— an offering of food 
Unto the Wood-God, plenteous, delicate, 

Set in a bowl of gold under his tree, 

Such as the lips of Devs ^ may taste and take. 

And this had been: for there was born to her 
A beauteous boy, now three months old, who lay 
Between Sujata’s breasts, while she did pace 
With grateful footsteps to the Wood-God’s shrine, 
One arm clasping her crimson sari close 
To wrap the babe, that jewel of her joys^ 

The other lifted high in comely curve 
To steady on her head the bowl and dish 
Which held the dainty victuals for the God, 

But Radha, sent before to sweep the ground 
And tie the scarlet threads around the tree, 

^Dcvas ^spirits). 



BUDDHISM 


456 

Came eager, crying, “Ah, dear Mistress! look. 
There is the Wood-God sitting in his place, 
Revealed, with folded hands upon his knees. 

See how the light shines round about his brow! 
How mild and great he seems, with heavenly eyes! 
Good fortune is it thus to meet the gods ” 

So, — thinking him divine, — ^Sujata drew 
Tremblingly nigh, and kissed the earth and said, 
With sweet face bent, “Would that the Holy One 
Inhabiting this grove. Giver of good, 

Merciful unto me his handmaiden. 

Vouchsafing now his presence, might accept 
These our poor gifts of snowy curds, fresh made, 
With milk as white as new-carved ivory!” 

Therewith into the golden bowl she poured 
The curds and milk, and on the hands of Buddh 
Dropped attar from a crystal flask — distilled 
Out of the hearts of roses: and he ate. 

Speaking no word, while the glad mother stood 
In reverence apart. But of that meal 
So wondrous was the virtue that our Lord 
Felt strength and life return as though the nights 
Of watching and the days of fast had passed 
In dream, as though the spirit with the flesh 
Shared that fine meat and plumed its wings anew, 
Like some delighted bird at sudden streams 
Weary with flight o’er endless wastes of sand, 
Which laves the desert dust from neck and“ crest. 
And more Sujata worshipped, seeing our Lord 
Grow fairer and his countenance more bright: 
“Art thou indeed the God?” she lowly asked, 
“And hath my gift found favour?” 


But Buddh said, 

“What is it thou dost bring me?” 

“Holy One!” 

Answered Sujata, “from our droves I took 
Milk of a hundred mothers, newly-calved, 



THE LIGHT OF ASIA 


457 


And with that milk I fed fifty white cows, 

And with their milk tw^enty-and-five, and then 
With theirs twelve more, and yet again with theirs 
The SIX noblest and best of all our herds. 

That yield I boiled with sandal and fine spice 
In silver lotas, adding rice, well grown 
From chosen seed, set in new-broken ground, 

So picked that every gram was like a pearl. 

This did I of true heart, because I vowed 
Under thy tree, if I should bear a boy 
I would make offering for my joy, and now 
I have my son, and all my life is bliss!” 

Softly our Lord drew down the crimson fold, 

And, laying on the little head those hand<i 
Which help the worlds, he said, “Long be thy bliss! 

And lightly fall on him the load of life! 

For thou hast hplpen me who am no God, 

But one, thy Brother; heretofore a Prince 
And now a wanderer, seeking night and day 
These six hard years that light which somewhere shines 
To lighten all men’s darkness, if they knew! 

And I shall find the light; yea, now it dawned 
Glorious and helpful, when my weak flesh failed 
Which this pure food, fair Sister, hath restored, 

Drawn manifold through fives to quicken fife 
As life itself passes by many births 
To happier heights and purging off of sins. 

Yet dost thou truly find it sweet enough 
Only to live? Can life and love suffice?” 

Answered Sujata, “Worshipful! my heart 
Is little, and a little rain will fill 
The lily’s cup which hardly moists the field. 

It is enough for me to feel life’s sun 

Shine in my Lord’s grace and my baby’s smile, 

Making the loving summer of our home. 

Pleasant my days pass filled with household cares 
From sunrise when I wake to praise the gods, 



BUDDHISM 


458 

And give forth grain, and trim the tulsi-plant, 

And set my handmaids to their tasks, till noon, 

When my Lord lays his head upon my lap 
Lulled by soft songs and wavings of the fan; 

And so to supper-time at quiet eve, 

When by his side I stand and serve the cakes. 

Then the stars light their silver lamps for sleep, 

After the temple and the talk v^ith friends. 

How should I not be happy, blest so much, 

And bearing him this boy whose tiny hand 
Shall lead his soul to Swarga,^ if it need ? 

For holy books teach when a man shall plant 
Trees for the travellers* shade, and dig a well 
For the folks’ comfort, and beget a son. 

It shall be good for such after their death; 

And what the books say that I humbly take, 

Being not wiser than those great of old 

Who spake with gods, and knew the hymns and charms, 

And all the ways of virtue and of peace. 

Also I think that good must come of good 
And ill of evil — surely — ^unto all — 

In every place and time — seeing sweet fruit 
Groweth from wholesome roots, and bitter things 
From poison stocks; yea, seeing, too, how spite 
Breeds hate, and kindness friends, and patience peace 
Even while we live; and when *tis willed we die 
Shall there not be as good a ‘Then’ as ‘Now*? 

Haply much better! since one grain of rice 
Shoots a green feather gemmed with fifty pearls. 

And all the starry champak’s white and gold 
Lurks in those little, naked, grey spring-buds. 

Ah, Sir! I know there might be woes to bear 
Would lay fond Patience with her face in dust. 

If this my babe pass first I think my heart 
Would break — almost I hope my heart would break; 
That I might clasp him dead and wait my Lord — 

In whatsoever world holds faithful wives— 

Duteous, attending till his hour should come, 

^Heaven, 



THE LIGHT OF ASIA 


459 


But if Death called Senani, I should mount 
The pile and lay that dear head in my lap, 

My daily way, rejoicing when the torch 

Lit the quick flame and rolled the choking smoke. 

For it is written if an Indian wife 
Die so, her love shall give her husband’s soul 
For every hair upon her head a crore 
Of years in Swarga. Therefore fear I not; 

And therefore, Holy Sir! my life is glad, 

Nowise forgetting yet those other lives 
Painful and poor, wicked and miserable. 

Whereon the gods grant pity^ But for me, 

What good I see humbly I seek to do. 

And live obedient to the law, in trust 

That what will come, and must come, shall come well.^* 

Then spake our Lord, “Thou teachest them who teach, 
Wiser than wisdom in thy simple lore. 

Be thou content to know not, knowing thus 
Thy way of right and duty: grow, thou flower! 

With thy sweet kind in peaceful shade— the light 
Of Truth’s high noon is not for tender leaves 
Which must spread broad in other suns, and lift 
In later lives a crowned head to the sky. 

Thou who hast worshipped me, I worship thee! 
Excellent heart! learned unknowingly. 

As the dove is which flieth home by love. 

In thee is seen why there is hope for man 
And where we hold the wheel of life at will. 

Peace go with thee, and comfort all thy days! 

As thou accomplishest, may I achieve! 

He whom thou thoughtest God bids thee wish this.” 

“Mayest thou achieve!” she said, with earnest eyes 
Bent on her babe; who reached its tender hands 
To Buddh — ^knowing, belike, as children know. 

More than we deem, and reverencing our Lord; 

But he arose — ^made strong with that pure meat — 

And bent his footsteps where a great Tree grew, 



BUDDHISM 


460 

The Bodhi'tree ^ (thenceforward in all years 
Never to fade, and ever to be kept 
In homage of the world), beneath whose leaves 
It was ordained the Truth should come to Buddh: 
Which now the Master knew; wherefore he went 
With measured pace, steadfast, majestical. 

Unto the Tree of Wisdom. Oh, ye Worlds! 

Rejoice! our Lord wended unto the Tree! 

Whom — as he passed into its ample shade. 

Cloistered with columned dropping stems, and roofed 
With vaults of glistering green — the conscious earth 
Worshipped with waving grass and sudden flush 
Of flowers about his feet. The forest-boughs 
Bent down to shade him; from the river sighed 
Cool wafts of wind laden with lotus-scents 
Breathed by the water-gods. Large wondering eyes 
Of woodland creatures — ^panther, boar, and deer — 

At peace that eve, gazed on his face benign 
From cave and thicket. From its cold cleft wound 
The mottled deadly snake, dancing its hood 
In honour of our Lord; bright butterflies 
Fluttered their vans, azure and green and gold, 

To be his fan-bearers; the fierce kite dropped 
Its prey and screamed; the striped palm-squirrel raced 
From stem to stem to see; the weaver bird 
Chirped from her swinging nest; the lizard ran; 

The koil sang her hymn; the doves flocked round; 

Even the creeping things were ’ware and glad. 

Voices of earth and air joined in one song, 

Which unto ears that hear said, “Lord and Friend! 
Lover and Saviour! Thou who hast subdued 
Angers and prides, desires and fears and doubts. 

Thou that for each and all hast given thyself, 

Pass to the Tree! The sad world blesseth thee 
Who art the Buddh that shall assuage her woes.' 

Pass, Hailed and Honoured! strive thy last for us, 

King and high Conqueror! thine hour is come; 

^ The Wisdpm-Tr?ej famous in Buddhist scnp turns; ho^kt, wisdom, 



THE LIGHT OF ASIA 


461 


This is the Night the ages waited for!” 

Then fell the night, even as our Master sate 
Under that Tree. But he who is the Prince 
Of Darkness, Mara — knowing this was Buddh 
Who should deliver men, and now the hour 
When he should find the Truth and save the worlds— 
Gave unto all his evil powers command. 

Wherefore there trooped from every deepest pit 
The fiends who war with Wisdom and the Light, 

Arati, Trishna, Raga, and their crew 
Of passions, horrors, ignorances, lusts. 

The brood of gloom and dread; all hating Buddh, 
Seeking to shake his mind; nor knoweth one, 

Not even the wisest, how those fiends of Hell 
Battled that night to keep the Truth from Buddh: 
Sometimes with terrors of the tempest, blasts 
Of demon-armies clouding all the wind 
With thunder, and with blinding lightning flung 
In jagged javelins of purple wrath 
From splitting skies; sometimes with wiles and words 
Fair-sounding, ’mid hushed leaves and softened airs 
From shapes of witching beauty; wanton songs, 
Whispers of love; sometimes with royal allures 
Of proffered rule; sometimes with mocking doubts, 
Making truth vain. But whether these befell 
Without and visible, or whether Buddh 
Strove with fell spirits in his inmost heart. 

Judge ye: — I write what ancient books have writ. 

The ten chief Sins came— Mara’s mighty ones, 

Angels of evil — ^Attavada first, 

The Sin of Self, who in the Universe 
As in a mirror sees her fond face shown, 

And, crying “I,” would have the world say “I,” 

And all things perish so if she endure. 

‘Tf thou be’st Buddh,” she said, “let others grope 
Lightless; it is enough that Thou art Thou 
Changelessly; rise and take the bliss of gods 
Who change not, heed not, strive not.” But Buddh spake, 



BUDDHISM 


462 

“The right in thee is base, the wrong a curse; 

Cheat such as love themselves.” Then came wan Doubt, 
He that denies — the mocking Sin — and this 
Hissed in the Master’s ear, “All things are shows, 

And vain the knowledge of their vanity; 

Thou dost but chase the shadow of thyself; 

Rise and go hence, there is no better way 
Than patient scorn, nor any help for man, 

Nor any staying of his whirling wheel.” 

But quoth our Lord, “Thou hast no part with me, 

False Visikitcha! subtlest of man’s foes.” 

And third came she who gives dark creeds their power 
Silabbat-paramasa, sorceress, 

Draped fair in many lands as lowly Faith, 

But ever juggling souls with rites and prayers; 

The keeper of those keys which lock up Hells 
And open Heavens. “Wilt thou dare,” she said, 

“Put by our sacred books, dethrone our gods, 

Unpeople all the temples, shaking down 
That law which feeds the priests and props the realms.?” 
But Buddha answered, “What thou bidd’st me keep 
Is form which passes, but the free Truth stands; 

Get thee unto thy darkness.” Next there drew 
Gallantly nigh a braver Tempter, he, 

Kama, the King of passions, who hath sway 
Over the gods themselves. Lord of all loves, 

Ruler of Pleasure’s realm. Laughing he came 
Unto the tree, bearing his bow of gold 
Wreathed with red blooms, and arrows of desire 
Pointed with five-tongued delicate flame, which stings 
The heart it smites sharper than poisoned barb: 

And round him came into that lonely place 
Bands of bright shapes with heavenly eyes and lips 
Singing in lovely words the praise of Love 
To music of invisible sweet chords, 

So witching, that it seemed the night stood still 
To hear them, and the listening stars and moon 
Paused in their orbits while these hymned to Buddh 
Of lost delights, and how a mortal man 



THE LIGHT OF ASIA 


Findeth nought dearer in the Three wide worlds 
Than are the yielded loving fragrant breasts 
Of Beauty and the rosy breast-blossoms, 

Love’s rubies; nay, and toucheth nought more high 
Than is that dulcet harmony of form 
Seen in the lines and charms of loveliness. 
Unspeakable, yet speaking, soul to soul. 

Owned by the bounding blood, worshipped by will 
Which leaps to seize it, knowing this is best, 

This the true heaven where mortals are like gods, 
Makers and Masters, this the gift of gifts 
Ever renewed and worth a thousand woes. 

For who hath grieved when soft arms shut him safe, 
And all life melted to a happy sigh. 

And all the world was given in one warm kiss ? 

So sang they with soft float of beckoning hands. 

Eyes lighted with love-flames, alluring smiles; 

In wanton dance their supple sides and limbs 
Revealing and concealing like burst buds 
Which tell their colour, but hide yet their hearts. 
Never so matchless grace delighted eye 
As troop by troop these midnight-dancers swept 
Nearer the Tree, each daintier than the last, 
Murmuring “O great Siddartha! I am thine, 

Taste of my mouth and see if youth is sweet!” 

Also, when nothing moved our Master’s mind, 

Lo! Kama waved his magic bow, and lo! 

The band of dancers opened, and a shape, 

Fairest and stateliest of the throng, came forth 
Wearing the guise of sweet Yasodhara. 

Tender the passion of those dark eyes seemed 
Brimming v^th tears; yearning those outspread arms 
Opened towards him; musical that moan 
W^erelvith the beauteous shadow named his name, 
Sighing, “My Prince! I die for lack of thee! 

What heaven hast thou found like that we knew 
By bright Rohini in the Pleasure-house, 

Where all these weary years I weep for thee ? 
Return, Siddartha! ah! return. But touch 



BUDDHISM 


464 

My lips again, but let me to thy breast 

Once, and these fruitless dreams will end! Oh, look! 

Am I not she thou lovedstf^” But Buddh said, 

“For that sweet sake of her thou playest thus, 

Fair and false Shadow! is thy playing vain; 

I curse thee not who wear’st a form so dear, 

Yet as thou art so are all earthly shows. 

Melt to thy void again!” Thereat, a cry 
Thrilled through the grove, and all that comely rout 
Faded with flickering wafts of flame, and trail 
Of vaporous robes. 

Next, under darkening skies 
And noise of rising storm, came fiercer Sms, 

The rearmost of the Ten; Patigha — Hate — 

With serpents coiled about her waist, which suck 
Poisonous milk from both her hanging dugs, 

And with her curses mix their angry hiss. 

Little wrought she upon that Holy One 
Who with his calm eyes dumbed her bitter lips 
And made her black snakes writhe to hide their fangs. 
Then followed Ruparaga — ^Lust of days — 

That sensual Sin which out of greed for hfe 
Forgets to live; and next him Lust of Fame, 

Nobler Aruparaga, she whose spell 
Beguiles the wise, mother of daring deeds, 

Battles and toils. And haughty Mano came, 

The Field of Pride; and smooth Self-Righteousness, 
Qddhachcha; and — ^with many a hideous band 
Of vile and formless things, which crept and flapped 
Toad-like and bat-like — Ignorance, the Dam 
Of Fear and Wrong, Avidya, hideous hag. 

Whose footsteps left the midnight darker, while 
The rooted mountains shook, the wild winds howled, 
The broken clouds shed from their caverns streams 
Of levin-lighted rain; stars shot from heaven, 

The solid earth shuddered as if one laid 
Flame to her gaping wounds; the torn black air 
Was full of whistling wings, of screams and yells, 

Of evil faces peering, of vast fronts 



THE LIGHT OF ASIA 


465 


Terrible and majestic, Lords of Hell 

Who from a thousand Limbos led their troops 

To tempt the Master. 

But Buddh heeded not. 

Sitting serene, with perfect virtue walled 
As is a stronghold by its gates and ramps; 

Also the Sacred Tree — the Bodhi-tree — 

Amid that tumult stirred not, but each leaf 
Glistened as still as when on moonlit eves 
No zephyr spills the gathering gems of dew; 

For all this clamour raged outside the shade 
Spread by those cloistered stems : 

In the third watch, — 

The earth being still, the hellish legions fled, 

A soft air breathing from the sinking moon — 

Our Lord attained Samma-sambuddh; ^ he saw, 

By light which shines beyond our mortal ken, 

The line of all his lives in all the worlds; 

Far back, and farther back, and farthest yet. 

Five hundred hves and fifty. Even as one. 

At rest upon a mountain-summitj marks 
His path wind up by precipice and crag. 

Past thick-set woods shrunk to a patch; through bogs 
Glittering false-green; down hollows where he toiled 
Breathless; on dizzy ridges where his feet 
Had well-nigh slipped; beyond the sunny lawns. 

The cataract, and the cavern, and the pool, 

Backward to those dim flats wherefrom he sprang 
To reach the blue; thus Buddha did behold 
Life’s upward steps long-linked, from levels low 
Where breath is base, to higher slopes and higher 
Whereon the ten great Virtues wait to lead 
The climber skyward. Also, Buddha saw 
How new life reaps what the old life did sow; 

How where its march breaks off its march begins; 

Holding the gain and answering for the loss; 

And how in each life good begets more good, 

^Highest knowledge, perfect wisdom; the final liberation from the errors of mortal 
perceptions. 



BUDDHISM 


466 

Evil fresh evil; Death but casting up 
Debit or credit, whereupon th’ account 
In merits or demerits stamps itself 
By sure arithmic — where no tittle drops — 

Certain and just, on some new-springing life; 

Wherein are packed and scored past thoughts and deeds, 
Strivings and triumphs, memories and marks 
Of lives foregone: 

And in the middle watch 
Our Lord attained Abhidjna ^ — insight vast 
Ranging beyond this sphere to spheres unnamed. 

System on system, countless worlds and suns 
Moving in splendid measures, band by band 
Linked in division, one, yet separate, 

The silver islands of a sapphire sea 
Shoreless, unfathomed, undiminished, stirred 
With waves which roll in restless tides of change. 

He saw those Lords of Light who hold their worlds 
By bonds invisible, how they themselves 
Circle obedient round mightier orbs 
Which serve profounder splendours, star to star 
Flashing the ceaseless radiance of life 
From centres ever shifting unto cirques 
Knowing no uttermost. These he beheld 
With unsealed vision, and of all those worlds, 

Cycle on epicycle, all their tale 
Of Kalpas, Mahakalpas “—terms of time 
Which no man grasps, yea, though he knew to count 
The drops in Gunga from her springs to the sea, 

Measureless unto speech — ^whereby these wax 
And wane; whereby each of this heavenly host 
Fulfils its shining life, and darkling dies. 

Sakwal by Sakwal, depths and heights he passed 
Transported through the blue infinitudes, 

Marking — ^behind all modes, above all spheres, 

Beyond the burning impulse of each orb — 

That fixed decree at silent work which wills 
Evolve the dark to light, the dead to life, 

*■ Supernatural powers. * World epochs and super-epochs. 



THE LIGHT OF ASIA 


To fulness void, to form the yet unformed, 

Good unto better, better unto best, 

By wordless edict; having none to bid. 

None to forbid; for this is past all gods, 

Immutable, unspeakable, supreme; 

A Power which builds, unbuilds, and builds again, 
Ruling all things accordant to the rule 
Of virtue, which is beauty, truth, and use; 

So that all things do well which serve the Power, 
And ill which hinder; nay, the worm does well 
Obedient to its kind; the hawk does well 
Which carries bleeding quarries to its young; 

The dewdrop and the star shine sisterly 
Globing together in the common work; 

And man who lives to die, dies to live well 
So if he guide his ways by blamelessness 
And earnest will to hinder not but help 
All things both great and small which suffer life. 
These did our Lord see-in the middle watch. 

But, when the fourth watch came, the secret came 
Of Sorrow, which with evil mars the law. 

As damp and dross hold back the goldsmith’s fire. 
Then was the Dukha-Satya ^ opened him 
First of the “Noble Truths”; how Sorrow is 
Shadow to life, moving where life doth move; 

Not to be laid aside until one lays 
Living aside, with all its changing states. 

Birth, growth, decay, love, hatred, pleasure, pain. 
Being and doing. How that none strips off 
These sad delights and pleasant griefs who lacks 
Knowledge to know them snares; but he who knows 
Avidya— Delusion— sets those snares, 

Loves life no longer, but ensues escape. 

The eyes of such a one are wide, he sees 
Delusion breeds Sankhara, Tendency 
Perverse; Tendency Energy — ^Vidnnan — 

Whereby comes Namarupa, local Form 

^ The truth regarding sorrows. 



BUDDHISM 


468 

And Name and Bodiment, bringing the man 
With senses naked to the sensible, 

A helpless mirror of all shows which pass 
Across his heart; and so Vedana grows — 

‘Sense-life’ — false in its gladness, fell m sadness, 

But sad or glad, the Mother of Desire, 

Trishna, that thirst which makes the living drink 
Deeper and deeper of the false salt waves 
Whereon they float, pleasures, ambitions, wealth. 

Praise, fame, or domination, conquest, love; 

Rich meats and robes, and fair abodes and pride 
Of ancient lines, and lust of days, and strife 
To live, and sins that flow from strife, some sweet. 

Some bitter. Thus Life’s thirst quenches itself 
With draughts which double thirst, but who is wise 
Tears from his soul this Trishna, feeds his sense 
No longer on false shows, files his firm mind 
To seek not, strive not, wrong not; bearing meek 
All ills which flow from foregone wrongfulness. 

And so constraining passions that they die 
Famished; till all the sum of ended life — 

The Karina ^ — all that total of a soul 
Which is the things it did, the thoughts it had. 

The ‘Self’ it wove — ^with woof of viewless time, 

Crossed on the warp invisible of acts — 

The outcome of him on the Universe, 

Grows pure and sinless; either never more 
Needing to find a body and a place, 

Or so informing what fresh frame it takes 
In new existence that the new toils prove 
Lighter and lighter not to be at all. 

Thus “finishing the Path”; free from Earth’s cheats; 
Released from all the Skandhas of the flesh; 

Broken from ties — ^from Upadanas — saved 
From whirling on the Wheel; aroused and sane 
As is a man wakened from hateful dreams. 

Until— greater than Kings, than Gods more glad! — 

The aching craze to live ends, and life glides— 

^ Action or life, with its law of consequences in the present and future life. 



THE LIGHT OF ASIA 


469 


Lifeless — ^to nameless quiet, nameless joy^ 

Blessed Nirvana — sinless, stirless rest— 

That change which never changes! 

Lo! the Dawn 

Sprang with Buddh’s victory! lo! in the East 
Flamed the first fires of beauteous day, poured forth 
Through fleeting folds of Night’s black drapery. 

High in the widening blue the herald-star 
Faded to paler silver as there shot 
Brighter and brightest bars of rosy gleam 
Across the grey. Far off the shadowy hills 
Saw the great Sun, before the world was ’ware, 

And donned their crowns of crimson; flower by flower 
Felt the warm breath of Morn and ’gan unfold 
Their tender lids. Over the spangled grass 
Swept the swift footsteps of the lovely Light, 

Turning the tears of Night to joyous gems. 

Decking the earth with radiance, ’broidering 
The sinking storm-clouds with a golden fringe. 

Gilding the feathers of the palms, which waved 
Glad salutation; darting beams of gold 
Into the glades; touching with magic wand 
The stream to rippled ruby; in the brake 
Finding the mild eyes of the antelopes 
And saying “It is day!” in nested sleep 
Touching the small heads under many a wing 
And whispering “Children, praise the light of day!” 
Whereat there piped anthems of all the birds, 

The Koil’s fluted song, the Bulbul’s hymn, 

The “morning, morning” of the painted thrush, 

The twitter of the sunbirds starting forth 
To find the honey ere the bees be out, 

The grey crow’s caw, the parrot’s scream, the strokes 
Of the green hammersmith, the myna’s chirp, 

The never-finished love-talk of the doves: 

Yea! and so holy was the influence 

Of that high Dawn which came with victory 

That, far and near, in homes of men there spread 



BUDDHISM 


470 

An unknown peace. The slayer hid his knife; 

The robber laid his plunder back; the shrofE 
Counted full tale of coins; all evil hearts 
Grew gentle, kind hearts gentler, as the balm 
Of that divinest Daybreak lightened Earth. 

Kings at fierce war called truce; the sick men leaped 
Laughing from beds of pain; the dying smiled 
As though they knew that happy Morn was sprung 
From fountains farther than the utmost East; 

And o’er the heart of sad Yasddhara, 

Sitting forlorn at Prince Siddartha’s bed. 

Came sudden bliss, as if love should not fail 
Nor such vast sorrow miss to end in joy. 

So glad the World was — ^though it wist not why — 
That over desolate wastes went swooning songs 
Of mirth, the voice of bodiless Prets and Bhuts 
Foreseeing Buddh; and Devas in the air 
Cried ‘It is finished, finished!” and the priests 
Stood with the wondering people in the streets 
Watching those golden splendours flood the sky, 

And saying “There hath happed some mighty thing.” 
Also in Ran and Jungle grew that day 
Friendship amongst the creatures; spotted deer 
Browsed fearless where the tigress fed her cubs, 

And cheetahs lapped the pool beside the bucks; 
Under the eagle’s rock the brown hares scoured 
While his fierce beak but preened an idle wing; 

The snake sunned all his jewels in the beam 
With deadly fangs in sheath; the shrike let pass 
The nestling-finch; the emerald halcyons 
Sate dreaming while the fishes played beneath, 

Nor hawked the merops, though the butterflies — 
Crimson and blue and amber — ^flitted thick 
Around his perch; the Spirit of our Lord 
Lay potent upon man and bird and beast, 

Even while he mused under that Bodhi-tree, 

Glorified with the Conquest gained for all, 

And lightened by a Light greater than Day’s. 



THE LIGHT OF ASIA 


Then he arose — radiant, rejoicing, strong — 
Beneath the Tree, and lifting high his voice 
Spake this, in hearing of all Times and Worlds: — 

Many a House of life 

Hath held me — seeking ever him v^ho wrought 
These prisons of the senses, sorrow-fraught; 
Sore WAS my ceaseless strife! 

But now, 

Thou Builder of this Tabernacle — Thou! 

I KNOW Thee! Never shalt Thou build again 
These walls of pain, 

Nor raise the roof-tree of deceits, nor lay 
Fresh rafters on the clay; 

Broken Thy house is, and the ridge-pole split! 

Delusion fashioned it! 

Safe pass I thence — ^deliverance to obtain. 

BOOK THE SEVENTH 

Sorrowful dwelt the King Suddhodana 
All those long years among the Sakya Lords 
Lacking the speech and presence of his Son; 
Sorrowful sate the sweet Yasodhara 
All those long years, knowing no joy of life, 
Widowed of him her living Liege and Prince. 
And ever, on the news of some recluse 
Seen far away by pasturing camel-men 
Or traders threading devious paths for gain, 
Messengers from the King had gone and come. 
Bringing account of many a holy sage 
Lonely and lost to home; but nought of him 
The crown of white Kapilavustu’s line. 

The glory of her monarch and his hope, 

The heart’s content of sweet Yasodhara, 
Far-wandered now, forgetful, changed, or dead. 

But on a day in the Wasan:a-time. 

When silver sprays swing on the mango-trees 



BUDDHISM 


472 

And all the earth is clad with garb of spring, 

The Princess sate by that bright garden-stream 
Whose gliding glass, bordered with lotus-cups, 
Mirrored so often in the bliss gone by 
Their clinging hands and meeting lips. Her lids 
Were wan with tears, her tender cheeks had thinned; 
Her lips’ delicious curves were drawn with grief; 

The lustrous glory of her hair was hid — 

Close-bound as widows use; no ornament 
She wore, nor any jewel clasped the cloth — 

Coarse, and of mourning-white — crossed on her breasto 
Slow moved and painfully those small fine feet 
Which had the roe’s gait and the rose-leaf’s fall 
In old years at the loving voice of him. 

Her eyes, those lamps of love, — ^which were as if 
Sunlight should shine from out the deepest dark, 
Illumining Night’s peace with Daytime’s glow — 
Unlighted now, and roving aimlessly, 

Scarce marked the clustering signs of coming Spring, 
So the silk lashes drooped over their orbs. 

In one hand was a girdle thick with pearls, 

Siddartha’s — ^treasured since that night he fled — 

(Ah, bitter Night! mother of weeping days! 

When was fond Love so pitiless to love. 

Save that this scorned to limit love by life?) 

The other led her little son, a boy 
Divinely fair, the pledge Siddartha left— 

Named Rahula — now seven years old, who tripped 
Gladsome beside his mother, light of heart 
To see the spring-bosoms burgeon o’er the world. 

So, while they lingered by the lotus-pools, 

And, lightly laughing, Rahula flung rice 
To feed the blue and purple fish; and she 
With sad eyes watched the swiftly-flying cranes, 
Sighing, “Oh! creatures of the wandering wing, 

If ye shall light where my dear Lord is hid. 

Say that Yasodhara lives nigh to death 

For one word of his mouth, one touch of him!”— 



THE LIGHT OF ASIA 


473 


Thus, as they played and sighed — ^mother and child — 
Came some among the damsels of the Court 
Saying, “Great Princess! there have entered in 
At the south gate merchants of Hastinpur, 

Tripusha called and Bhalluk, men of worth, 

Long travelled from the loud sea’s edge, who bring 
Marvellous lovely webs pictured with gold, 

Waved blades of gilded steel, wrought bowls in brass, 

Cut ivories, spice, simples, and unknown birds. 

Treasures of far-oif peoples; but they bring 
That which doth beggar these, for He is seen! 

Thy Lord, — our Lord, — the hope of all the land — 
Siddartha! they have seen him face to face. 

Yea, and have worshipped him with knees and brows, 
And offered offerings; for he is become 
All which was shown, a Teacher of the wise^ 
World-honoured, holy, wonderful; a Buddh 
Who doth deliver men and save all flesh 
By sweetest speech and pity vast as Heaven: 

And, lo! he journeyeth hither, these do say.” 

Then — while the glad blood bounded in her veins 
As Gunga leaps when first the mountain snows 
Melt at her springs — ^uprose Yas5dhara 
And clapped her palms, and laughed, with brimming tears 
Beading her lashes. “Oh! call quick,” she cried, 

“These merchants to my purdah, for mine ears 
Thirst hke parched throats to drink their blessed news. 

Go bring them in, — ^but, if their tale be true, 

Say I will fill their girdles with much gold. 

With gems that Kings shall envy: come ye too, 

My girls, for ye shall have guerdon of this 
If there be gifts to speak my grateful heart.” 

So went those merchants to the Pleasure-House, 

Full softly pacing through its golden ways 
With naked feet, amid the peering maids, 

Much wondering at the glories of the Court. 

Whom, when they came without the purdah’s folds. 



BUDDHISM 


474 

A voice, tender and eager, filled and charmed 
With trembling music, saying, “Yc are come 
From far, fair Sirs! and ye have seen my Lord — 

Yea, worshipped — for he is become a Buddh, 
World-honoured, holy, and delivers men, 

And journeyeth hither. Speak^ for, if this be, 

Friends are ye of my House, welcome and dear.” 

Then answer made Tripusha, “We have seen 
That sacred Master, Princess! we have bowed 
Before his feet; for who was lost a Prince 
Is found a greater than the King of kings. 

Under the Bodhi-tree by Phalgu s bank 

That which shall save the world hath late been wrought 

By him, — the Friend of all, the Prince of all— 

Thine most, High Lady! from whose tears men win 
The comfort of this Word the Master speaks. 

Lo! he is well, as one beyond all ills, 

Uplifted as a god from earthly woes. 

Shining with risen Truth, golden and clear. 

Moreover as he entereth town by town, 

Preaching those noble ways which lead to peace. 

The hearts of men follow his path as leaves 
Troop to the wind or sheep draw after one 
Who knows the pastures. We ourselves have heard, 

By Gaya in the green Tchirnika grove. 

Those wondrous lips and done them reverence: 

He cometh hither ere the first rains fall.” 

Thus spake he, and Yas5dhara, for joy, 

Scarce mastered breath to answer, “Be it well 
Now and at all times with ye, worthy friends! 

Who brings good tidings; but of this great thing 
Wist ye how it befell ?” 

Then Bhalluk told 

Such as the people of the valleys knew 
Of that dread night of conflict, when the air 
Darkened with fiendish shadows, and the earth 
Quaked, and the waters swelled with Mara’s wrath. 



THE LIGHT OE ASIA 


475 


Also how gloriously that morning broke 
Radiant with rising hopes for man, and how 
The Lord was found rejoicing ’neath his Tree. 

But many days the burden of release — 

To be escaped beyond all storms of doubt, 

Safe on Truth’s shore — lay, spake he, on that heart 
A golden load; for how shall men — Buddh mused — 

Who love their sins and cleave to cheats of sense. 

And drink of error from a thousand springs. 

Having no mind to see, nor strength to break 
The fleshly snare which binds them — how should such 
Receive the Twelve Nidanas ^ and the Law 
Redeeming all, yet strange to profit by, 

As the caged bird oft shuns its opened door? 

So had we missed the helpful victory 
If, in this earth without a refuge, Buddh, 

Winning the way, had deemed it all too hard 
For mortal feet and passed, none following him. 

Yet pondered the compassion of our Lord; 

But in that hour there rang a voice as sharp 
As cry of travail, so as if the earth 
Moaned in birth-throe, ''Nasyami aham bhu 
Nasyati 16\a!” Surely I am lost, 

I AND MY CREATURES : then a pause, and next 
A pleading sigh borne on the western wind, 

''Sruyatdm dharma, Bhagwat!" Oh, SupremeI 
Let thy great Law be uttered! Whereupon 
The Master cast his vision forth on flesh. 

Saw who should hear and who must wait to hear, 

As the keen Sun gilding the lotus-lakes 
Seeth which buds will open to his beams 
And which are not yet risen from their roots; 

Then spake, divinely smiling, “Yea! I preach! 

Whoso will listen let him learn the Law.” 

Afterwards passed he, said they, by the hills 
Unto Benares, where he taught the Five, 

^Causes. The twelve Nidanas form the chain of causation which carri«s on the misery of 
the world. 



BUDDHISM 


476 

Showing how birth and death should be destroyed, 
And how man hath no fate except past deeds, 

No Hell but what he makes, no Heaven too high 
For those to reach whose passions sleep subdued. 
This was the fifteenth day of Vaishya 
Mid-afternoon, and that night was full moon. 

But, of the Rishis, first Kaundinya 
Owned the Four Truths and entered on the Paths; 
And after him Bhadraka, Asvajit, 

Basava, Mahanama; also there 

Within the Deer-park, at the feet of Buddh, 

Yasad the Prince with nobles fifty-four, 

Hearing the blessed word our Master spake, 
Worshipped and followed; for there sprang up peace 
And knowledge of a new time come for men 
In all who heard, as spring the flowers and grass 
When water sparkles through a sandy plain. 

These sixty — said they — did our Lord send forth, 
Made perfect in restraint and passion-free, 

To teach the Way; but the World-honoured turned 
South from the Deer-park and Isipatan 
To Yashti and King Bimbisara’s realm, 

Where many days he taught; and after these 
King Bimbisara and his folk believed, 

Learning the law of love and ordered life. 

Also he gave the Master, of free gif t,— 

Pouring forth water on the hands of Buddh,— 

The Bamboo-Garden, named Weluvana, 

Wherein are streams and caves and lovely glades; 
And the King set a stone there, carved with this: — 

“What life’s course and cause sustain 
These Tathagato made plain; 

What delivers from life’s woe 
That our Lord hath made us know.” 

And, in that Garden— said they — there was held 
A high Assembly, where the Teacher spake 



THE LIGHT OF ASIA 


477 


Wisdom and power, winning all souls which heard; 
So that nine hundred took the yellow robe — 

Such as the Master wears, — and spread his Law; 

And this the gatha ^ was wherewith he closed : — 

“Evil swells the debts to pay. 

Good delivers and acquits; 

Shun evil, follow good; hold sway 
Over thyself. This is the Way.” 

Whom, when they ended, speaking so of him. 

With gifts, and thanks which made the jewels dull, 
The Princess recompensed. “But by what road 
Wendeth my Lord?” she asked: the merchants said, 
“Y5jans ^ threescore stretch from the city-walls 
To Rajagriha, whence the easy path 
Passeth by Sona hither, and the hills. 

Our oxen, treading eight slow koss a day, 

Came in one moon.” 

Then the King, hearing word, 
Sent nobles of the Court — well-mounted lords — 
Nine separate messengers, each embassy 
Bidden to say, “The ICng Suddhodana — 

Nearer the pyre by seven long years of lack, 
Wherethrough he hath not ceased to seek for thee — 
Prays of his son to come unto his own, 

The Throne and people of this longing Realm, 

Lest he shall die and see thy face no more.” 

Also nine horsemen sent Yasodhara 
Bidden to say, “The Princess of thy House — 
Rahula’s mother — craves to see thy face 
As the night-blowing moon-flower’s swelling heart 
Pines for the moon, as pale as5ka-buds 
Wait for a woman’s foot: if thou hast found 
More than was lost, she prajs her part in this, 
Rahula’s part, but most of all thyself ” 

So sped the Sakya Lords, but it befell 

^ A short religious poem, consisung of one verse. 

* Short for ydfanas, each nine English milest 



BUDDHISM 


478 

That each one, with the message in his mouth, 
Entered the Bamboo-Garden in that hour 
When Buddha taught his Law; and — hearing — each 
Forgot to speak, lost thought of King and quest, 

Of the sad Princess even; only gazed 
Eye-rapt upon the Master; only hung 
Heart-caught upon the speech, compassionate, 
Commanding, perfect, pure, enlightening all, 
Poured from those sacred lips. Look! like a bee 
Winged for the hive, who sees the mogras spread 
And scents their utter sweetness on the air, 

If he be honey-filled, it matters not; 

If night be nigh, or rain, he will not heed; 

Needs must he light on those delicious blooms 
And drain their nectar; so these messengers 
One with another, hearing Buddha’s words. 

Let go the purpose of their speed, and mixed. 
Heedless of all, amid the Master’s train. 

Wherefore the King bade that Udayi go — 

Chiefest in all the Court, and faithfullest, 
Siddartha*s playmate in the happier days — 

Who, as he drew anear the garden, plucked 
Blown tufts of tree-wool from the grove and sealed 
The entrance of his hearing; thus he came 
Safe through the lofty peril of the place. 

And told the message of the King, and hers. 

Then meekly bowed his head and spake our Lord 
Before the people, “Surely I shall go! 

It is my duty as it was my will; 

Let no man miss to render reverence 
To those who lend him life, whereby come means 
To live and die no more, but safe attain 
Blissful Nirvana, if ye keep the Law, 

Purging past wrongs and adding nought thereto, 
Complete in love and lovely charities. 

Let the Kng know and let the Princess hear 
I take the way forewith ” This told, the folk 
Of white Kapilavastu and its fields 



THE LIGHT OF ASIA 


479 


Made ready for the entrance of their Prince. 

At the south gate a bright pavilion rose 

With flower-wreathed pillars, and the walls of silk 

Wrought on their red and green with woven gold. 

Also the roads were laid with scented boughs 
Of neem and mango, and full mussuks shed 
Sandal and jasmine on the dust; and flags 
Fluttered; and on the day when he should come 
It was ordained how many elephants — 

With silver howdahs and their tusks gold-tipped — 

Should wait beyond the ford, and where the drums 
Should boom “Siddartha cometh!” where the lords 
Should light and worship, and the dancing girls 
Where they should strew their flowers, with dance and song. 
So that the steed he rode might tramp knee-deep 
In rose and balsam, and the ways be fair; 

While the town rang with music and high joy. 

This was ordained, and all men’s ears were pricked 
Dawn after dawn to catch the first drum’s beat 
Announcing, “Now he cometh!” 

But it fell — 

Eager to be before — ^Yasodhara 
Rode in her litter to the city-walls 
Where soared the bright pavilion. All around 
A beauteous garden smiled — ^Nigrodha named — 

Shaded with bel-trees and the green-plumed dates, 
New-trimmed and gay with winding walks and banks 
Of fruits and flowers; for the southern road 
Skirted its lawns, on this hand leaf and bloom, 

On that the suburb-huts where base-borns dwelt 
Outside the gates, a patient folk and poor. 

Whose touch for Kshatriya and priest of Brahm 
Were sort defilement. Yet those, too, were quick 
With expectation, rising ere the dawn 
To peer along the road, to climb the trees 
At far-off trumpet of some elephant, 

Or stir of temple-drum; and when none came, 

Busied with lowly chores to please the Prince; 

^ A seat with a canopy and railing for the nder on elephant’s back. 



BUDDHISM 


480 


Sweeping their door-stones, setting forth their flags, 
Stringing the fluted fig-leaves into chains, 

New furbishing the Lingam, decking new 
Yesterday’s faded arch of boughs, but aye 
Questioning wayfarers if any noise 
Be on the road of great Siddartha. These 
The Princess marked with lovely languid eyes, 
Watching, as they, the southward plain, and bent 
Like them to listen if the passers gave 
News of the path. So fell it she beheld 
One slow approaching with his head close shorn, 

A yellow cloth over his shoulder cast. 

Girt as the hermits are, and in his hand 
An earthen bowl, shaped melonwise, the which 
Meekly at each hut-door he held a space. 

Taking the granted dole with gentle thanks 
And all as gently passing where none gave. 

Two followed him wearing the yellow robe, 

But he who bore the bowl so lordly seemed. 

So reverend, and with such a passage moved, 

With so commanding presence filled the air, 

With such sweet eyes of holiness smote all, 

That, as they reached him alms the givers gazed 
Awestruck upon his face, and some bent down 
In worship, and some ran to fetch fresh gifts 
Grieved to be poor; till slowly, group by group, 
Children and men and women drew behind 
Into his steps, whispering with covered lips, 

“Who is he? who? when looked a Rishi thus?’^ 

But as he came with quiet footfall on 
Nigh the pavilion, lo! the silken door 
Lifted, and, all unveiled, Yasddhara 


Stood in his path crying, “Siddartha! Lord!” 

With wide eyes streaming and with close-clasped hands, 
Then sobbing fell upon his feet, and lay. 


Afterwards, when this weeping lady passed 
Into the Noble Paths, and one had prayed 
Answer from Buddha wh